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home : news : obituaries June 24, 2016

Richard F. Collier, Jr., was staunch pro-life attorney and advocate
Richard F. Collier, Jr.
Richard F. Collier, Jr.

Richard F. Collier, Jr., whose staunch defense of human life spanned a legal career of nearly four decades, died Dec. 25 at age 63. Funeral services were held for Mr. Collier Dec. 30 in St. Paul Church, Princeton.

Born in Teaneck, Mr. Collier was a graduate of Bergen Catholic High School, Harvard College (cum laude) and Boston University School of Law. He served two years as a law clerk for a federal judge in Trenton before spending 36 years in private practice specializing in litigating sophisticated commercial disputes. He served as president of the Somerset County Bar Association; chairman of the ethics committee for Hunterdon, Somerset and Warren Counties; chairman of the federal practice committee of the State Bar Association; member of the lawyers advisory committee for the federal courts in New Jersey, and a member of the New Jersey State advisory committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Since 1989, he served as president of the Legal Center for Defense of Life, a non-profit organization providing legal services to protect human life, from conception to natural death, especially the life of the unborn baby in the womb. As one of the state’s premiere pro-life attorneys, he was involved in numerous high-profile cases including his 1997 appointment by a Superior Court judge to represent an unborn baby, and his appointment by the State Legislature to defend its statute banning partial-birth abortion, also in 1997.

Mr. Collier authored numerous articles in pro-life periodicals, including an article entitled “Reversing Roe” published in the American Life League’s “Celebrate Life” magazine. Since 2002, he had been one of the featured speakers at several of the annual Rallies for Life held on the steps of the N.J. Statehouse on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and had given numerous talks and lectures on pro-life legal issues at parishes and to various groups.

Mr. Collier was the recipient of many awards for his efforts to promote and protect the right to life, including the Guardian of Life Award from New Jersey Right to Life; the Pro Vita Award from the Diocese of Metuchen; and The Cardinal John J. O’Connor Pro-Life Award from the Northeast Region of Legatus International. Mr. Collier was most recently honored with the St. Thomas More Award by the Diocese of Metuchen at a ceremony following their annual Red Mass Oct. 27 in Piscataway. On Nov. 8, he was honored with the Diocese of Trenton’s “Lumen Gentium” award. The award, which translates from the Latin “light of the nations,” takes its name from the dogmatic constitution on the Church from the Second Vatican Council which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The award was presented to Mr. Collier by Msgr. Thomas J. Mullelly, diocesan vicar for clergy personnel and consecrated life, and Father Michael McClane, parochial vicar of St. Paul Parish.

Mr. Collier was predeceased by his parents Richard and Catherine Collier and a brother, Brian. He is survived by his wife of 36 years, Janet A. Collier; three children, Megan (Michael) Reilly; Sean (Kelly) Collier, and Matthew (Shannon) Collier; and one brother, Robert Collier, and a grandchild who is due to be born in July.

Burial was in St. Hedwig Cemetery, Ewing.

Memorial donations may be sent to the Legal Center for Defense of Life, 14 Franklin St., Morristown, N.J. 07960; Life Choices, 156 S. Main St., Phillipsburg, N.J. 08865 or Good Counsel Homes, P.O. Box 6068, Hoboken, NJ 07030

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