Nonnenman joins Heart Walk Board as memorial tribute for father

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Beth Nonnenmann didn’t hesitate when asked to serve on the Pike County Heart Board.

She had reason to want to serve.

Nonnenmann lost her dad, Charles Collins, to heart disease in October 2010 and was anxious to work with a group that was focused on the prevention and treatment of heart disease.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“My dad died on October 30. It was his 60th birthday,” Nonnenmann said. “He didn’t have to die that young.”

Collins graduated from Troy University with a degree in criminal justice. He was an Army paramedic and was an officer on the Troy Police Department for about 20 years.

“In 1982, my dad was promoted to detective and awarded the Silver Star for bravery in relation to the death of Officer Steve Watkins,” Nonnenmann said. “He was smart and he was brave, but he didn’t take care of himself like he should and it cost him his life.”

Collins had two heart attacks between 1990 and 2002. In 2002, he was also diagnosed with diabetes.

“My dad knew the dangers of heart disease and he knew that he was at even greater risk because he also had diabetes,” Nonnenmann said. “But, he was stubborn. I didn’t eat right, and he didn’t do the other things that he needed to do to take care of himself.”

Nonnenman watched as her dad’s health deteriorated. She watched as the dad she once knew as strong and brave became weak and withdrawn.

“He would watch Alabama football but that was about all he would do,” Nonnenmann said. “He started communicating less and less and then not much at all.”

In July of 2010, Collins’ health had declined to the extent he had to be placed in a nursing home and eventually on life support.

“I had to watch as my dad’s condition got worse and worse,” Nonnenmann said. “I had to watch him suffer and that was so hard. I kept thinking that if he had just taken care of himself.

“My dad died a young man. He died without getting to see our little girl, his granddaughter. We’ll miss having him with us and being a part of our lives. He didn’t have to die so young and that’s what hurts so much.”

Nonnenmann attends the Troy University School of Nursing. Her dad’s battle with heart disease and diabetes was reason she chose to going into nursing. It is also the reason she is dedicated to raising awareness of heart disease and funds to find ways to prevent and treat the disease that is the leading cause of death among men and women in the United States.

“I’m the youngest member of the Pike County Heart Board and I’m dedicating my service to the memory of my dad,” Nonnenmann said. “I want to encourage everyone to support the Pike County Chapter of the American Heart Association’s 2015 Heart Walk campaign and participate in the Heart Walk at the Troy Recreation Center on Feb. 10.”