Clanton man celebrates 95th birthdayBy Emily Etheredge Published 4:47pm Wednesday, July 3, 2013
During the late 1970s, Collins and his wife Hazel would have coffee with friends Agnes and Cecil Ellison every morning at Hardee’s.
“We just all hung out every day and got along really well,” Collins said.
Shortly after the four became friends, Agnes lost her husband, Cecil, and three years later Hazel Collins passed away.
Both Ellison and Collins continued their friendship throughout the years and still remain close friends today.
Collins retired from Liberty National when he was 62 and has enjoyed his retirement spending time with both Ellison and his four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren and cousin, Julia Wood in Thorsby.
Although Collins has outlived his first wife, Hazel, and two daughters, he considers himself fortunate to be alive and in good health.
Now, Ellison, 86, takes care of Rip on a daily basis and the two spend their afternoons driving throughout Alabama.
“I love to drive,” Ellison said. “I keep telling him that we need to go as much as we can now before he gets too old and I get to the point I can’t drive anymore.”
Ellison said the two will load up her white Nissan Sentra each afternoon and select a destination they would like to travel as they enjoy being together.
“We love looking at the corn and the cotton and driving the back roads to just look out and see everything,” Ellison said. “It is just beautiful.”
The two also travel to Jacks in Clanton every morning shortly after 5 a.m. to have their morning coffee with friends where they sit and talk about “everything” for an hour and return home to prepare for their afternoon drives.
Collins said he spent his 95th birthday with a special birthday cake and his friends at Jacks as well as an afternoon drive to Wetumpka with Ellison.
“It was a wonderful day,” Collins said. “I still can’t believe I made it to 95. Now I just hope I can make it to 100.”
Collins said most people don’t know that his first name is Morgan after he got his nickname “Rip” during the war.
“I got the name during a baseball game and I was playing first base,” Collins said. “The guy who was on second base looked over and asked me if he could call me Rip which was also the name of a major league baseball player Rip Collins. The nickname has stuck with me ever since.”
Although Collins said the birthday cake he received for turning 95 was too small to hold 95 candles, he hopes to have a birthday cake when he turns 100 with 100 candles.
“I have been very blessed with the life that I have lived,” Collins said. “I don’t know how I made it this far but Agnes looks after me and I eat pretty good so I guess that is helping me out.”