Mary Call Darby Collins

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Mary Collins
Mary Call Darby Collins gv005161.jpg
First Lady of Florida
In role
January 4, 1955 – January 3, 1961
GovernorLeRoy Collins
Preceded byThelma Brinson Johns
Succeeded byJulia Burnett Bryant
Personal details
Mary Call

September 11, 1911
New York City, U.S.
DiedNovember 29, 2009(2009-11-29) (aged 98)
Tallahassee, Florida, U.S.
Resting placeCall Family Cemetery (The Grove Plantation), Tallahassee, Florida, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
LeRoy Collins (m. 1932)

Mary Call Darby Collins (September 11, 1911 – November 29, 2009[1]) was an American historic preservationist, widow of former Governor LeRoy Collins and First Lady of Florida from 1955 to 1961.

Early years[edit]

Mary Call was born in New York City, New York, the only child and daughter of Thomas Arthur Darby and Jane Kirkman Brevard. Brevard being the daughter of Theodore Washington Brevard Jr. and Mary Laura Call. Mary Laura Call was the daughter of Richard Keith Call, 3rd and 5th territorial governor of Florida and Mary Letitia Kirkman.

Mary Call was born in New York because her father had business interests there. However, concerned for her health in the harsh northern winters, Jane Darby and Mary moved to Tallahassee and the Brevard family home of her maternal grandmother, Mary Call Brevard, and her Aunt Caroline Mays Brevard on Monroe Street. Thomas Darby visited his wife and daughter often and planned to establish a home for them in Tallahassee when circumstances permitted him to leave New York.

When Mary Call was nine years old, her best friend and first cousin, Cora, died following a fall from a tree. In 1920 both Mary Call Brevard and Aunt Caroline died from the influenza epidemic.

In 1923, Thomas Darby was found dead in his New York hotel room at age 66. His business partner then took the proceeds of their successful business and boarded a ship for Europe. The ship was lost at sea with all hands.

Mary Call attended Leon High School and appeared as "The Fairy Queen" in a 1916 May Party picture in the history book. Mary Call met Thomas LeRoy "Roy" Collins, whom she later married. Mary Call went on to Florida State College for Women but temporarily withdrew in order to help take care of her mother who was ill with cancer. In February 1932, Jane Brevard Darby died at the age of 64. Mary Call moved in with Uncle Ephraim and Aunt Bess Brevard. On June 29, 1932 Mary Call married LeRoy Collins at St. John's Episcopal Church in Tallahassee. Mary Call returned to college and graduated.

In 1942, the Collins family acquired The Grove Plantation, a circa 1840 plantation home originally built by Mary Collins' great grandfather Richard Keith Call.

Children and grandchildren[edit]

LeRoy and Mary Call Collins had 4 children: Roy Jr., Jane Aurell, Mary Call Proctor and Darby Collins and 12 grandchildren.

Mary Call Darby Collins Award[edit]

The Mary Call Darby Collins Award, one of three historic preservation awards from the Florida Secretary of State's office is presented to a volunteer who has forever changed the course of historic preservation. (In the 1970s, Mary Call Collins had served, by gubernatorial appointment, as a member of the Historic St. Augustine Preservation Board.)


Mary Call Darby Collins died at the age of 98, after a long illness. At this time, she was still living in her great-grandfather's home, and now the State of Florida is hoping to turn the home into a historic museum.[1]