Alan Collins Jr. called his oldest son, Alan David Brown Sr., his best friend.

And Collins Jr.’s father, Alan George Collins Sr., was the patriarch of the family, a man who “loved everybody and was loved by everyone.”

Collins Jr., the owner of the popular Washington restaurant Al’ an Ruben’s, is mourning the loss of both his father and his son, who died of COVID-19 within 36 hours of each other.

“I’m devastated. I’m destroyed. I don’t know how I’ll get over this,” said Alan Collins Jr. “But I want to thank the community for the love and support they’re giving to me, my family, to my grandchildren and my son’s wife. It’s been unbelievable.”

Alan Collins Sr., 71, of Pittsburgh, died Sept. 28 in a Pittsburgh hospital, less than two weeks after he and his wife were diagnosed with COVID-19. The following day, his grandson, Alan Brown Sr., died.

Brown, 35, also of Pittsburgh, was a devoted family man, a husband and a father of four.

Collins Sr. had gotten the COVID-19 vaccine, and recently got his booster shot. But he was a kidney transplant recipient, and was at higher risk for complications from the virus.

Brown was not vaccinated.

Collins Jr. said his son had been considering getting the vaccine.

He said the family doesn’t know how his father and son got COVID, but both became sick around the same time. Collins Sr.’s wife, along with Brown’s wife and children, also tested positive for COVID.

Initially, Brown’s symptoms were mild, while his wife had more serious symptoms. But as she improved, Brown’s condition worsened.

Meanwhile, Collins Sr. had been hospitalized and was losing his battle with COVID.

Collins Jr. had just returned from the hospital where he said good-bye to his father when his daughter-in-law called him to let him know Brown was being rushed to the hospital, and he was struggling to breathe.

“I didn’t even get a chance to grieve for my father, and then my son dies, and now I’m making two funeral arrangements,” Collins Jr. said.

He and his son talked on the phone every day.

“He was just a big teddy bear, a good man, and he was doing good things,” said Collins Jr. “He did whatever it took to make sure his bills got paid and his kids got what they needed, and he helped his community. I love that boy so much.”

Brown loved football, especially the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pitt Panthers football teams, and enjoyed tailgating during football season.

He also loved Lebron James and tennis shoes – especially Nike Lebron James kicks. Along with Collins Jr., Brown founded Kicks on Flame, a tennis shoe Facebook group that has grown to include more than 14,000 members worldwide.

Brown, who worked for PNC Bank, also was active in the community, his father said.

The week before Brown fell ill, he held a shoe drive for children in need, and collected clothes and book bags for kids.

“He did things like that all the time,” said Collins Jr. “He was like a big brother to all his cousins; they looked up to him.”

Alan Collins Sr., who served in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War, enjoyed hunting and fishing – he often traveled to Florida on fishing expeditions – and loved spending time with his family. He was famous for hosting barbecue dinners and cooking for his family.

“He was going on 72, but he acted young; it was like he was 60,” said Collins Jr., noting his father took a job immediately after he retired. “Everybody loved him. He liked people, and people loved being around him. Everybody in the family just lost a staple in our community.”

Collins Jr., who is vaccinated, said he has taken precautions throughout the pandemic to keep his customers safe. He closed his restaurant before mandatory shut-downs were temporarily implemented at the beginning of the pandemic, and followed strict protocols when restaurants reopened.

“Even if nothing is wrong with you, if you get the shot you can still get COVID. You still have to wear your mask,” said Collins Jr., noting he believes his father became less cautious after getting the vaccine.

A GoFundMe page was started (https://www.gofundme.com/f/brown-funeral-and-family-fund?member=14364043) to help Brown’s wife with expenses and to care for their children.

“We are so thankful to the Al’ an Ruben’s community, the Kicks on Flame community, and the general community for their words of encouragement and kind deeds. That’s helped me get through every day. There are beautiful people in this world,” said Collins Jr.

“Love your family, love your friends, love one another because life can be taken from you any second, any minute, any hour of the day. Life is short. While you can, live and love. Tomorrow isn’t promised to anybody.”

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