Vernon Collins officially retired Monday morning as Columbia County Coroner.
Collins, who served for 17 years, submitted a letter to County Manager Scott Johnson, who passed it on to Probate Judge Alice Padgett who must name a replacement. The Governor’s Office was also notified.
“I am proud to have served the citizens of this great county for the last thirty years and am now looking forward to retirement and spending time with my family,” Collins said in his letter.
A county press release is expected later today. The retirement comes more than a year before the end of Collins’ term.
Collins, 75, first served as deputy coroner in 1990 and succeeded former Coroner Thomas L. King Sr. when he died in 2006. Collins worked closely and learned from King as a deputy coroner for many years and received death investigation training yearly at the Georgia Public Safety Center.
The coroner and his deputy coroners are responsible for investigating the deaths of all those who die at home, in accidents, in wrecks or under questionable circumstances, in addition to those who die within 24 hours of being admitted to a hospital and all deaths of anyone age 18 and under.
Collins was hailed as a coroner with “honesty, compassion and integrity.” He was known for modernizing the coroner’s office, securing laptop computers for work at scenes and creating an expanded four-page death investigation form to replace one that was handwritten on carbon paper.
Stay tuned for more details on this developing story.