In Memoriam

Daniel Collins (1916-2007)

Daniel Collins, a civil rights pioneer and the first black faculty member at the University of California at San Francisco School of Dentistry, died late last month at a retirement community in northern California. He was 91 years old.

Dr. Collins was a native of Darlington, South Carolina. His father owned a business in which he used mules to haul tobacco, coal, and cotton. When Collins was 16, his parents borrowed $200 to send him to Paine College in Augusta, Georgia. He graduated from Paine in 1936 and went on to Meharry Medical College where he earned a degree in dentistry.

After graduation from Meharry, Collins and his new wife, who was a dental hygienist, moved to California and set up a private practice. He served on the faculty of the University of San Francisco dental school from 1942 to 1960. He later was a trustee for four different universities.

In addition to his professional career and teaching responsibilities, Collins founded the Bay Area Urban League, a newspaper for African Americans, a counseling center, a church, and a black-owned savings and loan. He also served a six-year term on the State Board of Education.

William Henry Owens Jr. (1921-2007)

W.H. Owens Jr., professor of English and the former director of the speech and drama program at Virginia Union University, died late last month at a nursing home near Richmond, Virginia. He was 86 years old.

Owens was a theater major at Virginia Union University in the early 1940s, starring in numerous productions staged by the VUU Players. After a brief career as a professional actor, he returned to the academic world to earn a master’s degree from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in theater from the University of Denver. He taught first at the State University of New York at Brockport. In 1977 he returned to Virginia Union University as a professor of English. He served for four years as the vice president for academic affairs before taking over the drama program in 1990. He then revived the VUU Players and directed numerous plays put on by the troupe as well as 10 operas.