Collins enjoying two loves — music and tennis

By SANDRA THAMES / Community Columnist

Since January 1981, Darrell Collins has been at Westwood Baptist as choir director. “It’s hard to believe that they have put up with me for so long,” Collins said.

His long career in and love of music started when his dad bought him a Sears and Roebuck country guitar. In high school, Collins formed his own rock and roll band.

Westwood Baptist Church Choir Director Darrell Collins has been serving at the church since 1981. (Contributed)

Some form of music has been in his life ever since.

While a senior in college, he led the music at Oak Mountain Baptist in Pelham for a year and followed with six years at First Baptist Church of Pelham.

Having met his wife, Sandra, when she played piano at First Baptist of Alabaster, Collins readily admitted he chased her until he caught her.

From 1973 until 1979, Collins was in the math department at Thompson High School.

He was offered a job with Alfa Insurance and the opportunity to improve his income if he would really “bust it.” Sandra said no — too many ifs, commission — only with a growing family — but in the end he gave it a try.

As most of you know, Darrell was a well-known Alfa agent for 32 years until his retirement in 2010.

Collins and his wife have raised five children: Kimberly, a pharmacist; Shane, a minister of music in Oxford; Lee, who plays a mean set of drums at Westwood and is in outside sales with Home Depot; Lisa, a full-time mom, former praise team member and creator of Heartbox — the Christmas Angel.

Youngest son, Zac, lives in Tampa with his family and is director of youth worship and student programming.

Ten grandchildren round out the family, and the Collins love Thanksgiving and Christmas when food, love, noise and tradition prevail.

Tennis, always a passion, paid off for Collins last year.

“We would head to wherever we were playing, and most of the time I would be greeted with a ‘Hey Coach,’” he said. “Yep, the old man in the group really stood out.”

Their team traveled from Pelham to Arizona last year and won the Men’s 3.0 National Tennis Championship.

“It’s quite a thrill to be able to stay up with these youngsters,” he said.

The neat thing going on in Collins’ life right now is that he is learning new tricks of the trade, such as sound, technical, lighting, etc. Westwood now has a Calera and a Montevallo campus, and Collins divides his time among all of them. Sometimes he calls Zac or Shane to get help or info from them since this is “their thing.”

Recently one of them called Collins because he was participating in a funeral and needed his dad’s help on hymns appropriate for the occasion.

So the elder reached into his “hymn knowledge” (and it is vast — he can sing it if you can hum it) and helped the youngster.

Community columnist Sandra Thames can be reached by email at