Collier passes away

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By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

DUGSPUR —A long-time Dugspur business man and Carroll County public servant — who family members remember as a man that worked tirelessly for his community — died Oct. 21.

Avis H. Collier, 81, ran Collier's Store from the 1950s to the dawn of the 21st Century, and still made time to serve on the Carroll Board of Supervisors and the Carroll School Board, found the Dugspur Rescue Squad and work toward the creation of the Twin County Regional Hospital.

Collier, according to daughter Jill Saunders, took over running the Texaco station from his father, O.C., in the 1950s.

The store was the second-oldest continuously operating Texaco station in the U.S. for a time. Saunders remembers it as a true country store that sold hardware, clothing, shoes, animal feed, seeds, cinder blocks, a full line of groceries and more.

Collier's Store was the only grocery around that opened on Sundays, so a lot of people came from Hillsville to trade with her father then.

One particular memory that stands out to Saunders in the history of the store happened during the oil embargo of the 1970s.

Working people, like farmers and saw millers, couldn't make it on the amount of gas they were allotted, she recalled. So Collier would open up the store at midnight to dispense fuel to them so they could keep working.

He would quietly give food from the store to families with children who otherwise might have gone without and gave away gas to those who couldn't pay for it, she said. He had seen his family fall on difficult times during the Depression, so he knew what it was like "to have the wolf at the door."

Collier believed that individuals should serve their community and that one person could make a difference, Saunders said. A lot of people would come to him for advice and to ask him to run for office.

They might have to come back a couple times before he accepted, she said. Collier wanted to do his best to benefit the most people while using common sense and considering all points of view.

A Democrat, Collier was elected to the Carroll Board of Supervisors multiple times and served on the county board for a total of 16 years.

"No other Democrat to my knowledge has been elected to four consecutive terms [in Carroll]," Saunders said.

He never voted along party lines, she added. "He voted for what he believed was best for most people in Carroll County."

Collier served on the school board when they were planning for the construction of Carroll County High School, she recalled. He wanted to see it built in a central location and for it to include an auditorium and a gym to hold school activities and ball games.

Near the end of his tenure as supervisor, Collier also wanted the countywide school improvement plan to proceed through to the finish.

"He really believed what you put in education today is an investment in tomorrow," Saunders said.

Saunders also remembered the time around 1993 when the supervisors were considering a drastic funding decrease for schools.

This led to education supporters holding a rally on the old courthouse lawn to make their opposition to the cuts known, she recalled. Collier, who objected to the cuts, was the only supervisor to go and join the rally.

"He was the only one who had the courage to go out and stand out on the lawn with the people," she said.

Saunders went there with her father, and she watched many of those education supporters thank him and shake his hand for taking a stand.

Her father was doing what he felt was right and doing what he taught. "I was so proud of him I guess I could have burst," she said.

"He was a humble man with humble roots," Saunders said. "He never set out to make a name for Avis Collier.”