The Maritime Aquarium's Statement on the Loss of Former Norwalk Mayor Bill Collins

The Maritime Aquarium extends its heartfelt condolences to the family of Bill Collins, mayor of Norwalk from 1977 to 1981 and again from 1983 to 1987. Bill was a tremendous leader of the city, and a great champion of the Aquarium.

“The Maritime Aquarium and its Board mourn the loss of former mayor Bill Collins,” stated Clay Fowler, chair of the Board of Trustees of The Maritime Aquarium. “Without his bold leadership urging preservation of the past as a launch pad to the future, we and our beloved SoNo would not be here today” Fowler added.

As mayor, Bill led the successful revitalization of South Norwalk, and The Maritime Aquarium was a cornerstone of that plan. With his leadership, the transformation of an abandoned iron works factory in a downtrodden part of the city became the catalyst for what is now one of the most dynamic and vibrant neighborhoods in the region.

Jason Patlis, president and CEO of The Maritime Aquarium, stated: “We owe the establishment of The Maritime Aquarium to Bill’s visionary leadership as mayor of Norwalk at the time. As a result of his foresight and dedication, the Aquarium is now one of the state’s most popular family destinations, as well as a learning center and conservation leader for Long Island Sound—serving the community of Norwalk and hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. We owe this legacy to Bill Collins.”

Christopher du P. Roosevelt, founder of The Maritime Aquarium, worked closely with Mayor Collins in both the idea and the creation of the Aquarium, originally named The Maritime Center at Norwalk. “Bill was a true friend and a visionary for Norwalk,” said Roosevelt. “He initiated the South Norwalk redevelopment process, stuck with it through thick and thin, and was an ultimately practical leader who got things done. He truly cared about the people of his community and worked hard to better his community and his neighbors. We all are the better for his commitment and will miss his leadership, care, and humorous light touch.”

“Together with his late wife, Elizabeth “Tish” Gibbs, who served as a member of the Board of Trustees of The Maritime Aquarium for many years, Bill and Tish were instrumental in not only the creation of the Aquarium, but the survival of the Aquarium through its early challenges, and today, thanks to them, we are a source of pride for the community of Norwalk,” added Patlis.

Our thoughts are with the Collins and Gibbs families during this difficult time.