Traverse City Record-Eagle

Life

June 14, 2008

A Man Remembered: Chaplain, ministry honored in book

A faith journey isn't always a straight line. The road can be full of bumps and curves, as John Collier discovered.

Collier, of Grand Rapids, came from a broken home. He was 8 years old when his parents divorced. "My father basically was a very violent man who was into drugs and alcohol," Collier said. "On three separate occasions he spent time in prison. I called him a three-time loser."

Even so, Collier grew up craving his father's love and attention. His mother's efforts to keep the family together resulted in another bad marriage, and after several moves his mother settled in Traverse City with Collier and his sister.

Collier always sought a father figure and excelled in academics and sports in school while striving for teachers' and coaches' approval, but he was a discipline problem at home and a runaway at 12.

A Traverse City police officer involved in his foster care placement served as the positive role model he needed, and when it came time to pursue a career, Collier chose law enforcement. He was accepted to the Indiana State Police Academy, and became an exemplary officer, even serving on the elite governor's detail in Evansville. "I loved my job," he said.

His mother settled into another marriage and urged Collier to seek God in his life, but he wasn't interested. His birth father popped in and out of his life. "I always loved my dad and craved his approval, but I hated him, too," Collier said.

The hurt built and eventually affected his career. He began to resent those in authority over his job and developed bad habits. He used alcohol more and started using marijuana.

"I was getting into situations where I normally would take people to jail and instead I would take their drugs and tell them to get lost," he said. He began to pocket the money out-of-state speeders would ask him to mail in as cash bond. His conduct eventually came under internal investigation and he was suspended.

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