Philip A. Rollins, the former longtime district attorney for the Cape and Islands, died on Christmas Day at the Beverly Hospital. Mr. Rollins, who spent most of his professional career in public service and retired in 2002, was visiting his daughter in Ipswich for Christmas at the time of his death. He was 70.

Mr. Rollins was a well-known figure on the Vineyard during his years as district attorney.

Mr. Rollins grew up in Brookline; he was graduated from Dartmouth College and the Boston College School of Law, where he earned his juris doctorate in 1960. From 1960 to 1968 he worked as an associate town counsel for the town of Brookline. He moved to Cape Cod in 1969, where he was elected selectman in the town of Mashpee. In 1970 he unseated longtime district attorney Edmund Dinis, who was a Democrat. At that time the district was called the Southern District of Massachusetts and included Bristol, Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket counties. In 1974 Mr. Rollins backed legislation to create a separate district for the Cape and Islands, and he was elected the first district attorney for that district.

He served for eight consecutive terms. Among other things, during his 32-year tenure, he is credited with launching the Victim Witness Assistance Program and with forming the Cape Cod Drug Task Force. He was one of the first district attorneys in the state to hire female prosecutors and to form a domestic violence unit.

"His death is a great loss . . . professionally he was a quiet leader and mentor to so many," Cape and Islands district attorney Michael O'Keefe told the Cape Cod Times this week. Mr. O'Keefe worked with Mr. Rollins for more than 20 years before becoming his successor.

At the time of his death Mr. Rollins was living in Mashpee and practicing law.

He is survived by his wife of 46 years, Priscilla (Kingston) Rollins; a son, Philip A. Rollins Jr. of Dummerston, Vt.; a daughter, Priscilla (Sam) Davis of Ipswich; and seven granddaughters. He was predeceased by a daughter, Alison Rollins, who died in an accident in 1986 at the age of 21.

Contributions may be made to the Alison Rollins memorial Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 119, Barnstable, MA 02630.