BAYONNE AND BEYOND -- Former Bayonne Mayor Dennis Collins, who served four full terms in office in the 1970s and 1980s, passed away Sunday morning at the age of 85.
According to the Associated Press, he died of natural causes.
Collins grew up in Bayonne and served in World War II.
He was first elected to the Bayonne City Council in the 1960s and then as mayor in 1974.
He was involved in starting many programs in the city, including programs to serve the needy that are still ongoing.
A year and a half ago, one of Bayonne's post offices was named the Dennis P. Collins post office after the former mayor.
At the time, official after official testified to the huge influence former Mayor Dennis P. Collins had on their lives.
Although Collins had served as legislative aide to members of Congress, the state Senate and state Assembly, he seemed most content to serve as city councilman and mayor of Bayonne. He did these things with such diligence that former Gov. Tom Kean Sr. called him "America's mayor."
Over the years, Collins has met movie stars and rock legends, presidents and other high-level political figures, but has always been seen as the man who cared for the people at home, very similar to the George Bailey character in "It's a Wonderful Life."
Yet, also like George Bailey, Collins has influenced decision makers over the years, including Gov. Kean, who said Collins' reputation for honesty made him seek out the mayor years ago.
"When I was appointed speaker of the Assembly, I had to sign contracts," Kean said last year. "I wanted someone I could trust to help me."
Five years ago, Collins talked with the Reporter's Al Sullivan about his career. Read that story HERE.