Richard Collings

Richard Collings

Dr. Richard James Collings of Morganton died Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021, a few days shy of his 75th birthday.

Born Nov. 11, 1946, in Owensboro, Ky., he was the son of the late Milton H. Collings Jr. and Jean Ladmore Collings and stepmother Gertrude Miller Collings. He was also preceded in death by his brother, John Russell Collings; and his beloved wife of 46 years, Marilyn Linville Collings.

Dr. Collings held a Bachelor’s Degree in International Studies from the University of Louisville, the first in his family to attend college. He also earned a Master’s Degree in Latin American Studies and Doctorate in Political Science, both from Tulane University. He served stateside in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.

Richard spent his career serving smaller state colleges, where he could pursue his top educational priorities of student-centered teaching and learning. He was president of Wayne State College in Wayne, Neb., from 2004 until 2010. He previously served as vice chancellor for Academic Affairs at Western Carolina University from 1996 until 2004. Dr. Collings was dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Kutztown University from 1989 until 1996. He began his career as professor of Political Science and assistant provost at Southeast Missouri State University from 1977 until 1989.

Richard was a caring husband, father, grandfather, brother and educator. He loved God, served as a leader in his United Methodist churches and was active in Rotary Club and other civic and volunteer activities. Richard’s dry sense of humor kept the family laughing, and everyone who knew him benefited from his kind and gentle manner. His career took his family to several cities and towns, and he encouraged his family to explore the surrounding area for the best local restaurants, museums, and natural and historic sites.

He is survived by three children, Kelly Collings Hawkins (Seth) of Morganton, N.C., Michael Collings (Katherine) of Sylva, N.C., and Kirsten Collings (Mark Hays) of Washington, D.C.; and 12 grandchildren, Ethan, Kai and Noah Hawkins; Olivia, Walter, Sebastian, Martha, Isaiah, Victor and Gabriel Collings; Calliope and Daphne Collings-Hays. Also left to cherish his memory is his sister, Adreena Anderson (Tom) of Louisville, Ky.; and numerous beloved cousins, nieces and nephews

A celebration of life will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, at First Presbyterian Church-Morganton. As the service will be indoors, we ask that everyone wear a mask and observe social distancing.

In lieu of flowers, please direct memorials to the Dr. Richard and Marilyn Collings Endowed Honors Scholarship at Wayne State College.  Make a general donation online at and add “Collings Scholarship” in the comment section, or send a donation to: Wayne State Foundation, 1111 Main St., Wayne, NE, 68787

Sossoman Funeral Home and Crematory Center is assisting the family with the arrangements. Condolence may be sent to the family by visiting