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Rilling orders Norwalk’s flags back up

Former Mayor Bill Collins, left, and wife Tish Gibbs attend a NancyOnNorwalk pizza party in 2018. (File photo)

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk’s flags have returned to full-mast, 22 days after the death of former Mayor Bill Collins.

Mayor Harry Rilling ordered flags at all City properties to be lowered to half-staff on July 26 in Collins’ honor. On Friday, Rilling directed the flags to rise by sunset.

Collins, 87, served as Mayor from 1977 to 1981 and from 1983 to 1987. Before that, he represented District 140 as a State Representative from 1974 to 1977.

Collins was driving to California to visit a family member and was in a one-car accident July 21 in Farmington, N.M. Police think he fell asleep, according to Michelle Gibbs, his daughter-in-law.

A NancyOnNorwalk reader pointed out that, according to the American Legion, only the President of the United States or a State’s Governor may order the flag to be half-staffed.

“Governor Lamont approved Mayor Rilling’s request to fly the flag at half-staff at official City buildings in Norwalk in honor of and upon the passing of former Mayor Bill Collins,” said Norwalk Director of Communications Michelle Woods Matthews in an email.

A letter from then-Mayor Bill Collins to then-8-year-old Bob Duff. Duff is now State Senate Majority Leader. (Bob Duff)

Many people feel sad about losing Collins. Among them is State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25).

“Bill helped inspire me to public service when I wrote to him as an eight-year-old about the future of Duffy Field, now Veterans Park,” Duff wrote on Facebook. “The fact that he actually answered me back speaks volumes about his character. I still have his letter hanging in my office, which always reminds me to help the next generation into public service.”

Gibbs said a memorial service for Collins may be held in September or October.