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Foundation honors Collins' legacy

JACKSONVILLE ' A dedicated preservationist is being honored and remembered so his legacy can live on.

A preservation foundation in Robertson Robbie Collins' name was launched following his memorial celebration hereSunday.

The REC Foundation is dedicated to Collins' vision that historic preservation plays a vital role in the ongoing effort to enrich cultural heritage. The fund will support preservation and education projects that are in line with the vision, according to the mission statement.

Collins, 81, died May 23 in Singapore after contracting dengue fever.

— The former Jacksonville resident spearheaded opposition to a four-lane highway bisecting the town in the 1960s. The effort spawned his career in international heritage conservation.

During Sunday's memorial celebration, Collins' nephew, David, said he and others decided to create the foundation in the hope of continuing his uncle's efforts.

David Collins said the purpose goes beyond preserving physical structures.

These buildings themselves, and the monuments, are expressions of the culture, he said.

The fund will focus on physical structures such as historic buildings, monuments and streetscapes, as well as honoring individuals dedicated to historic preservation, he said.

The fund will be global but will give primary consideration to Jacksonville and Oregon, he added.

The fund will be managed by the Oregon Community Foundation, which administers charitable funds donated by individuals, families and businesses.

Kathleen Davis, regional development director, said it's premature to name the amount in the permanent endowment fund or the size of the grants, but the total will exceed &

36;50,000.

She said the foundation's policy is to grant 4&

189; percent of the market value of the fund.

The earliest grants would not be made available until spring '04, said Davis.

Also announced Sunday was the creation of a new annual award by the Southern Oregon Historical Society, with Robbie Collins as the first recipient.

SOHS Executive Director John Enders said the award is either to an individual or an organization that has displayed outstanding or long-standing preservation of history.

He said he's been tossing around the idea of the award since last year, when he and Collins collaborated on elements of the Beekman Express, a re-creation of an 1850s express service and law office. Enders said the award was approved by the historical society board in June.

I felt that it was time he be recognized, said Enders.

Marjorie Edens, vice president of the Jacksonville Boosters Club, announced that Collins, who had founded the Jacksonville Boosters 40 years ago, recognized the group in his will.

One of the points that Robbie always stressed is that you have to benefit the local people first ... then you benefit the tourists, said Edens.

She said Collins' bequest will go toward an interpretive center and signs for the Jacksonville Cemetery and for the restoration and maintenance of the Britt Gardens.

Those who want to donate to the REC Foundation may send money in care of Kathleen Davis, Oregon Community Foundation, 925 W. Eighth St., Medford, OR 97501; or visit on the Web.

Another book by Collins published

The publication of Robbie Collins' latest book, A Disorderly Excursion, Asean Profiles, was announced Sunday.

The lighthearted accumulation of thoughts on tourism and preservation includes reflections on his travels and work in Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia and many other places.

It's a second in a series, the first being A Disorderly Excursion, Notes of a Conservationist in the Asia-Pacific Region, published in 1991.

The books were published by Pepper Publications in Singapore.

The publisher, Poay Lim, is visiting from Singapore and talking to local retailers about carrying the &

36;50 set of two books. All proceeds from the set will go to a new historic preservation foundation established in Collins' name.

For more information, visit on the Web.

Reach reporter Meg Landersat 776-4481 or e-mail .