Here is the obituary I wrote for my mom:
Toni “Cindy” Collins was born in OH April 13, 1944 but was a California girl, having been raised in Carmel and lived in LA.
She was a fortunate woman, as she shared one of the greatest love stories ever told…she and Denny celebrated their 45th anniversary this year, three more years than the number of days they knew each other before getting married, having hit the love-at-first-sight jackpot in Jackpot, NV when their respective bands were playing in town.
Though she was already a top-ten recording and touring artist when they met, they made music together in Nashville and on the road, traveling the world and having adventures. Wherever they were was home as long as they were together. But if it was Hawaii, all the better!
Just as they decided on the night they met, they had a daughter named Kimberley. Kim and husband Len live in NJ with their three sons, Leo, Oliver and Eli. Family also meant Denny’s brother Gordy of TN, sister Donna, mom Elinor, aunt Rachel and cousin Dwayne of MT and niece Tonya of AK, and former brother-in-law and spiritual adviser Denny Roe of AZ, as well as Len’s family in NY, PA & CT. Cindy was preceded in death by her mom Bette and beloved Grandpa John.
Cindy made friends easily and if you were not friends it’s just because you hadn’t met yet. Some friends were life-long and were so very cherished. Wherever she worked, she adopted everyone as family. She was known for being upbeat, candid and a staunch advocate. When she found an interest, she threw herself into it: from being the only non-skydiver ever to become a judge at the national and world level (and never once cheated in Denny’s favor when he was competing) or playing and watching tennis (most recently at the US Open in NY) to quietly reviewing Denny’s crosswords or napping – she was a world class napper and relaxer, while also being an inexhaustible worker and entrepreneur.
Even after being diagnosed with cancer in late May of this year, she remained positive. She was a fighter and believed she would win. Although she died, we believe she really did win because of how she lived and who she was. Even when she was no longer able to have conversation, she was still able to say “I love you” and did so repeatedly in her final days. That was our gift.
Cindy died peacefully at home on October 21, 2010, listening to music, surrounded by family.
Her life was celebrated yesterday in TN at a gathering of family and friends. And because performers know the show must go on, we will be hitting the road for one more tour and hope to celebrate with those who loved Cindy in MT and the NY area.