William A. “Bill” Collins, who had a 32-year career at the Index-Journal, died Tuesday.

Collins, who retired from the Index-Journal at the end of 2011, was 88. He served the paper in various capacities, as editor, executive editor, general manager and editorial page editor, a position he maintained for a number of years until his retirement.

After retiring, Collins was given the honorary title of editor emeritus of the Index-Journal and continued writing guest columns for the newspaper, with his most recent contribution publishing Oct. 26.

In December 2006, Collins was awarded the Order of the Palmetto, the state’s highest civilian honor bestowed by the state’s governor. Former state Rep. Mike Pitts secured the honor for Collins in recognition of his contributions and commitment to fair journalism in a post-Watergate era, as well as his continual protection of the First Amendment and support of the Second Amendment.

Collins was a Florence native and an Army veteran. He was one of the original Airborne Rangers, having completed his training before the age of 18.

A graduate of the University of South Carolina, his newspaper career spanned sports and crime reporting, editing and publishing — jobs that brought him not only to Greenwood, but also Columbia and Richmond, Virginia. And in Alexandria, Virginia, he was publisher of the Gazette, a newspaper owned by The State of Columbia.

While newspapering consumed the bulk of his professional career, Collins also served as director of public relations and advertising for Blue Cross-Blue Shield of South Carolina and chief of the USC news service. He also had a stint as public relations manager for the Associated General Contractors of the Carolinas in Charlotte.

Collins was married to the former Betsy Heeseman of Charlotte and had three children, Cathy, Chip and Christopher, along with a host of grandchildren.

A full obituary will be published Thursday.