Nfld. & Labrador

Slain pharmacist honoured by MUN for decades of service, daughter accepts award on behalf

David Collins was honoured at the Memorial University School of Pharmacy's white coat ceremony for his dedication to the industry. He was killed on Dec. 19, 2016.

After 34 years as a pharmacist, David Collins was killed in December 2016

Julia Collins accepts an honorary white coat from Don Rowe on behalf of her father, David, who was killed in December of 2016. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

Don Rowe was shaking with emotion as he presented an honorary white coat to the daughter of his longtime colleague David Collins.

"I would love to be putting this on Dave right now," he said.

Collins was bestowed the honour for his 34 years in the profession by the Memorial University School of Pharmacy on Thursday night. He was killed in his Logy Bay home on Dec. 19, 2016.

"My dad was so dedicated to this profession, it always comes up," said his daughter, Julia. "The word 'dedication' is always coming out of somebody's mouth when talking about my father."

The white coat goes to pharmacists who are leaders, mentors and inspirations to the future generation. It's presented in front of a room of first-year pharmacy students.

Rowe, who received the award last year, said Collins would have played down his success and probably never display the coat.

Just as Julia mentioned, he described Collins as a dedicated professional and one who went above and beyond for others.

"It's easy to sit back and let others do the heavy lifting, but David was not one of those types. Ultimately, he stood up when the occasion demanded and put others ahead of himself."

David Collins was honoured with an honorary white coat, an award bestowed on leaders and role models for young pharmacists. (Facebook)

Collins's death sent shockwaves through the pharmacy community. He had worked all over the province, from St. John's to Corner Brook, and ended his career as the pharmacy regional manager for Lawton's Drugs.

Police allege he was killed by his stepson, Graham Veitch, who was living with Collins at the time. Veitch is charged with first-degree murder and a list of other charges stemming from the alleged attack on Collins. 

He was due in Supreme Court on Monday, but his lawyer revealed he was in hospital. A report commissioned by the defence has been turned over to the Crown prosecutor in the case, which is believed to be about Veitch's mental health.

While his life came to a tragic end, his family and colleagues will always remember Collins for the caring, consistent man he was at work and at home.

Julia Collins describes her late father as a dedicated man who loved his work and cared about people deeply. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

"I often think about the dedication, passion and heart my dad brought to his work every single day," Julia told the room of first-year students. "Truly, my only wish for all of you is that you will be able to experience those characteristics and share them with each other."

The university is working with the family and Lawtons to establish an award in Collins's name. It will be awarded to a fourth year student to help with their last year of clinical practice.