The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers


Thomas LeRoy Collins (1909-1991)

LeRoy Collins, one of Florida's most noted Democratic politicians, was born in Tallahassee March 10, 1909. After serving as a state representative for six years, in 1940 he not only won election to the state senate but also joined the U.S. Navy, where he served the duration of World War II. In 1954, he left the state senate to run a successful campaign for governor, a position he held from 1955-1961. One of the first "New South" politicians, Governor Collins advocated strong civil rights legislation, pushed the legislature to create a junior college program, and launched a public television network covering the entire state. His record and his chairmanship of the 1960 Democratic convention prompted his critics to nickname him "Liberal LeRoy." After leaving politics, he became president of the National Broadcasters Association and then chief officer of the Community Relations Service, where he acted as both LBJ's agent during the 1965 Voting Rights March from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, and as a mediator between Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Alabama police and highway patrol. In 1968, he tried to represent Florida in the U.S. Senate, but lost to Republican Ed Gurney. He died of cancer at his Tallahassee home, March 2, 1991.
Source: "Ex-Governor of Florida LeRoy Collins Dies at 82," The Washington Post, 13 March 1991, sec. B, p.6.