OUTRAGEOUS HERO The B.T. Collins Story
Maureen Collins Baker
He was an American original. The kind of American we used to be and need to be again. He was a clown, a character’s character, a rogue, a rascal, who twisted your arm and broke your heart and mended it all in the same minute. He made people do the impossible, dream dreams and accomplish deeds of which they never before believed themselves capable. He made grown men cry at the sight of a passing flag and crowds laugh, to quote a “Pretty Woman” til they almost “peed their pants.” He inspired, he bullied, he cajoled, he ruled. He was, said a former nun, “the orneriest son-of-a-bitch I ever loved!” yet, a man so tender, he touched you to the very raw. He was an experience you never got over, “a man,” according to Rush Limbaugh, “that every American should have known.” Mark Shields told us in the Washington Post, “I never liked any politician more.” His name was B.T. Collins and Outrageous Hero is his story.
He was confidant, friend, and comic relief to senators and congressmen, governors, soldiers, lawyers, judges and the like. He corresponded regularly with Presidents. Brutally honest and unyielding when it came to principles, he had enemies as well. No one was blasé about B.T. Collins. Women adored him. He broke more hearts than Valentino and Casanova combined. He loved his family and sent his mother flowers on his birthday to thank her for giving him life. And he lived that life with gusto, jumping out of planes, skiing, white-water rafting, riding in a stunt plane but not before he had dropped his pants, taken off his leg and handed it to an astonished bystander so that he could be crammed into the plane’s tiny passenger seat. He stood tall but the touch of a single name engraved on a great granite wall could bring him to his knees.
He is buried in Sacramento on a simple knoll next to other prominent Republicans. The gravestone reads: “The World’s a better place because he was here.” Author, former Secretary of the Navy, now Democratic Senator, James Webb, wrote: “B.T.Collins--an unapologetic, stomp-down warrior. Thank God!” Thank God, indeed!