Julia Gillespie Collins, age 66, died suddenly in her home at the Double Eagle Ranch Preserve on Saturday, September 28, 2013. She was a big-hearted wife, mother, and grandmother, and she believed in having a plan, spreadsheet, and creative solution for absolutely everything. She was always fiercely independent and of pioneering spirit. Julie was born in Bradenton, Florida on January 18, 1947. Her parents were Eunice Dorothy Hastings Gillespie and Stuart Edgar Gillespie. She began her life in the Reasoner-Hastings family home called Bethsalem in Oneco, Florida where the first family of horticulturalists in Florida taught her a love of...
Julia Gillespie Collins, age 66, died suddenly in her home at the Double Eagle Ranch Preserve on Saturday, September 28, 2013. She was a big-hearted wife, mother, and grandmother, and she believed in having a plan, spreadsheet, and creative solution for absolutely everything. She was always fiercely independent and of pioneering spirit.
Julie was born in Bradenton, Florida on January 18, 1947. Her parents were Eunice Dorothy Hastings Gillespie and Stuart Edgar Gillespie. She began her life in the Reasoner-Hastings family home called Bethsalem in Oneco, Florida where the first family of horticulturalists in Florida taught her a love of gardening and scientific experimentation. As a proud military brat, she grew up all over the country and learned quickly to adapt to new environments. From Anchorage, Alaska to New Braunfels, Texas, she distinguished herself at an early age as a gifted student, marksman, and swimmer. She spent the summers of her teenage years even enrolled in college courses with support from the National Science Foundation. Julie received her B.A. in Zoology and Physical Sciences from Texas Woman's University and her M.S. in Zoology at the Marine Science Institute, University of Texas at Port Aransas where she dedicated herself to her studies, but found time to fall in love with both her future husband Jim and Mustang Island to which she and her family would make an annual summer pilgrimage. Julie and Jim were married there on June 30, 1973. They were then founding partners of Marine Commodities International in Brownsville, Texas-the first commercial venture to manufacture polymers, chitin, chitosan, glucosamine, and protein concentrates from shrimp and crab shells.
Julie then tirelessly dedicated herself to managing, organizing, and directing the planning, programming, and design of all on- and off-campus research projects at U.T. M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Smithville, and Bastrop, including notably the Basic Science Research Building and South Campus Research Facility, the Naomi Street laboratories, the MODs, research labs at the Woodlands, The Meadows Research laboratory at the Science Park Research Division, and a vivarium expansion at the Griffin small animal facility. As Assistant Vice President of Facilities Planning, Julie redesigned and upgraded over 500 thousand square feet of existing laboratories and designed over 1.8 million square feet of new laboratories, helping to make M.D. Anderson the leading hospital in the nation for cancer research and treatment. In 1992, she received the prestigious Ben and Julie Rogers Award for Excellence in Research Administration for her contributions and consistent demonstration of excellence.
After retirement, she found that even the daily rigors of founding and maintaining the 40 acre wildlife preserve in which she lived were not enough. Thus, she became Senior Programming Consultant for Broaddus Planning, and assisted with, among other projects, the University of North Texas Research building program. Julie was passionate about volunteerism, and gave her time and energy organizing events for numerous groups including Calvary Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Relief and Development Fund, and Heifer International. She also had a burgeoning interest in genealogy, and belonged to the Daughters of the American Revolution. And she still found time for countless arts and crafts projects which included keeping her three grandchildren beautifully clothed and wonderfully entertained. Another of her great joys was regular travel in Texas and abroad in Europe to visit family, spoil grandkids, and see the sites. She loved animals and rescued many Great Danes and cats that followed her everywhere.
Julie was preceded in death by her parents; her sister L. Christine (Dee) Gillespie; and her brother C. Pat Gillespie. She is survived by her husband James (Jim) H. Collins; sister Kate (Katie) A. Holmes and Rick Scalf of New Mexico; her brother William (Bill) Gillespie and his wife Lynda; her son James H. Collins II and his wife Mindy Eiermann and daughter Aurora of Los Angeles, California; her daughter Kimberleigh P. Collins-Peynaud and her husband Emmanuel Collins-Peynaud and two children Jim Henry and Ruby of Le Boulay, France.
Services will be held at 10am Wednesday, October 2, 2013 at Calvary Episcopal Church in Bastrop, Texas where a reception will follow. Internment will take place at Jeddo Cemetery in Bastrop County. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions to Calvary Episcopal Church (www.cecbastrop.org/
) or Heifer International (www.heifer.org