David C. Collins, 81, of Delaplane, passed away peacefully in Los Angeles on December 31, 2021, with his wife Mary and companion dog Rex at his side.
Dr. Collins was born December 9, 1940, in Kansas City, Missouri.
The family moved frequently in the Southeast, finally settling in Maryland, where David attended Baltimore Polytechnic High School. He earned a full scholarship to Stanford University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and was an enthusiastic member of his beloved ATO fraternity. David earned his Ph.D. in computers and control theory at the University of Southern California in 1969.
In 1974, David in his garage founded and was CEO of Learning Tree International (formerly known as Integrated Computer Systems), an international company that has provided technical and management training to more than two million IT professionals across the globe for over 40 years.
After retiring as CEO, he created Adventures in Learning – a free field trip school program at Learning Tree Farms near Delaplane. The program served more than 43,000 elementary and middle school students over a five-year period, providing experiential learning in nature until it closed in 2007.
If you knew David, it goes without saying he was a force to be reckoned with. Driven, passionate and pugnacious, David always enjoyed a good challenge —always fight the good fight — and pursued his goals and projects with tenacity and exuberance. “Never give up!” was one of his many mottos. David held himself by high ethical standards, aspiring always to honesty, integrity and truth in his many endeavors and relationships.
From a young age, David believed deeply in the paramount importance of empowering people through education, a passion that became his guiding purpose in his life. David was generous with his time and resources and always sought to remove barriers so others could be free to excel. He supported many schools, in particular with upgrading their technology, and was also an attentive mentor and sponsor to many high school students.
When Claude Thompson Elementary near Rectortown faced possible closure because of a poor water supply, he purchased adjacent land and had a well drilled that saved the school.
David cultivated a lifelong love of learning, especially in the fields of technology, math, history and health. He appreciated the value of books and would often carry around copies of his latest favorites to share with friends and colleagues.
Along with truth, David cherished beauty in all its forms. David had a deep love for the healing and restorative powers of the natural world. He loved to travel the rolling green hills he stewarded in Fauquier County — or “God’s Country,” as he referred to it. A favorite hobby was jumping in his old Jeep and taking photos of the farm’s natural beauty — culminating in the annual Learning Tree Farms Calendar that he and Mary created together. He also loved to make heartfelt slideshows, which he would share at the biannual family Christmas party with glee.
David had a zeal for American heritage, especially the founding ideals of individual liberty and equal treatment before the law. He was especially dedicated to promoting the legacy of Chief Justice John Marshall, including the preservation of his boyhood home, “The Hollow” in Markham.
David was preceded by his mother, Alma Collins (née Moore); his father, Warner Collins Jr., and his brother Warner Collins III.
David is survived by Mary, his wife and partner of 38 years; his son, Christopher; his best friend, Rex, and so many, many good friends.
In accordance with David’s wishes he will be buried in a private ceremony on the family farm in the blossoming of spring 2022.
In lieu of flowers, please help a child in need.