Doctors getting paged or phoned might not know it, but many of the emergency notification systems linking hospitals, patients and physicians came from a company founded by longtime Edina resident John (Jack) Collins.
Collins, who founded Amcom Software in 1984, died Nov. 28. He was 70.
His daughter, Kathy Veldboom of Chanhassen, said that her father was selfless, and treated employees and customers with the same respect that he offered his own family.
She heard recently from a former employee who said that 10 years ago, Collins found out that the worker's niece was sick. "Jack gave him a plane ticket and said, 'You'd better get going,'" Veldboom said. "I never heard that story until a week ago but it was typical of him," she said.
Collins was born in south Chicago, joined the Marines and attended Regis University in Denver. He moved to Minneapolis and met Bonnie, his wife of 45 years, on a blind date at the Minnesota State Fair.
Sean Collins helped his father sell Amcom Software three years ago and said that Jack wrote into the contract that the new owners must keep all 50 employees on the payroll for at least 12 months. The firm, which began in Edina and moved to Eden Prairie, now has 230 employees and $50 million in annual revenue.
It provides software that Veldboom calls the "backbone of internal communications" for hospitals. It is used at Stanford University Medical Center, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Duke University, Yale University and many other leading care centers.
The firm has also developed secure communications gear for use within the White House. And the U.S. Army uses its speech recognition software so that soldiers can call home from remote military outposts in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.
Sean Collins said he's been overwhelmed by an "onslaught of condolences" from company customers, which he attributes to Collins' "unique passion for connecting with people one-on-one."
Collins loved hunting, fishing, tennis and golf, and shared his passions with friends and their children.
Tom Hardie said he met Collins in 1976 and they became immediate friends. Over the years, said Hardie, he and others went on father-and-son fishing trips, and stayed at Collins' cabin near Grand Rapids.
"I never saw him without a smile on his face," Hardie said.
Veldboom said, "When he planned a party, it wasn't for close friends, it was for everybody. He never wanted anybody to be alone. He teed it up for everyone else and then he would sit back and enjoy it all."
In addition to his wife, Bonnie, daughter Kathy and son Sean, he is also survived by son Brian (Tiffany) Collins; six grandchildren; sisters Marianne and Rosemary, and brother Bert.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, with visitation one hour earlier, at the Church of St. Patrick, 6820 St. Patrick's Lane, Edina.