Though Bris Collins was more often in the newspaper for arrests and held a (well deserved) reputation as a hard-nosed hustler, he was also a dedicated member of Peoria’s African American community. He supported the community in many everyday ways and also in extraordinary ways.

In 1961 when the house behind the motel he operated caught fire, it was Collins who ran in several times to rescue the children on the second floor. He was only able to rescue the youngest baby before flames and smoke pushed him out for good, but it was an unabashed act of bravery.