First generation Irish American mayor passes away following cardiac arrest

The 70 year old mayor of Toledo, Ohio, Michael Collins, passed away late last week, five days after suffering cardiac arrest while driving through a snowstorm. Collins passed away at the University of Toledo Medical Center and will be buried tomorrow, Thursday, February 12. Tributes have been flooding in all week for the man who committed his life to public service.

Collins was named after the legendary Irish figure Michael Collins and, according to the Toledo Blade, he kept very close ties with his Irish family. According to the Blade, Collins was the son of Michael John Collins, one of four Irish siblings to emigrate to America, and Gertrude Helmer, of German descent.

Collins entered politics following his retirement from law enforcement. He served as a member of the Toledo police force for 27 years. He joined the Toledo City Council in 2007, ran unsuccessfully for mayor in 2009 and then won vote for the city's top post in 2013 as an independent candidate.

Collins was just entering his second year as mayor when he died. He had dealt with a difficult first year in office, facing the worst winter in Toledo in decades, a poisoned water supply from nearby Lake Erie and the threat of closure to the important Jeep manufacturing plant. Political allies and opponents were united in their outpouring of sympathy for his family and respect for the man. Collins will be replaced as mayor by deputy mayor and Democrat Paula Hicks-Hudson, who automatically assumed the position upon Collins’ death. Hicks-Hudson will serve as Toledo mayor until the city goes to the polls in November when a mayor will be chosen to see out the rest of Collins’ term.

Mayor Collins is survived by his wife and three daughters.