Groton - Barbara Collins, 79, born in South Pittsburg, Tenn., passed away peacefully Aug. 15, 2016, in Groton, of natural causes.
She is survived by her husband, Alfred P. Collins of Groton, to whom she was happily married for 31 years; her daughter, Roberta R. Rosa of Danbury; and her son, Frank Reed of Jamestown, R.I. She is also survived by her step-children, whom she cared for as her own, Jennifer Collins, Joseph Collins, Donald Collins, Jeffrey Collins, and Michael Collins; as well as her grandchildren, Nicholas Rosa and Alexander Rosa; and her step-grandchildren, Kristofer and Onalee Collins; Aedan, Eamon and Hugh Collins; and Matthew, Daniel and Lucy Weir.
She was predeceased by her brother, Philip Burroughs and by her mother, Estelle Burroughs.
Barbara loved writing and journalism her entire life. In high school in Phenix City, Ala., she was awarded a typewriter by the local newspaper in recognition of her talent. Though her family could barely afford two years of college education at the University of Alabama, she became a successful and hard-working journalist. Transplanted to Noank to raise her children, Barbara became the first female bureau chief for the Norwich Bulletin on Main St. in Mystic in the mid-1960s. She also wrote freelance articles for National Fisherman and other maritime publications. She vividly recalled covering the America's Cup Race, bobbing about in the official boat in the Atlantic when the race was still held near Newport.
Barbara soon was hired by The Day of New London as a staff reporter, covering Ledyard town news for many years and later assigned as the newspaper's food editor. She also wrote numerous human interest pieces, extremely popular with readers of The Day, including several holiday articles, one of her personal favorites on "Keeping Christmas". She wrote happily and with great passion for The Day until 1987.
In her newly adopted Connecticut home, where she learned to erase her southern accent to fit in with New England "Yankees", Barbara became one of the founding members of the Noank Historical Society. She was one of its first presidents and chaired many important committees through the 1970s. She was chairman of the NHS's July 4 Bicentennial Celebration in 1976.
As the newspaper industry evolved, Barbara started a small business learning the then-arcane skill of desktop publishing, studying fonts and layout procedures and computer systems but always remaining close to the metal, the art of wordsmithing, as she loved to call it. She parlayed her skills into professional work producing in-house publications and newsletters for the Otis Library in Norwich, the Public Affairs Office at the Subase in Groton, and the Noank Baptist Group Homes. Most recently, Barbara was the editor of the Noank Historical Society's newsletter from 2010 until she fell ill with breast cancer (from which she made a full recovery) in 2013. She was also a founding member of the Southeastern Connecticut Women's Network, devoted to the professional development of women in business.
In the 1990s and early 2000s, Barbara found great personal satisfaction managing young women from many countries around the world working for "Au Pair in America". She also dabbled in television when public access TV had great potential. She hosted interview programs in Groton giving voice to unique local points of view, and she was especially proud of her festive Christmas-themed programs.
Barbara loved gardening. In retirement, which she never believed really existed, she entered many of her flowers in local contests and won prizes for her roses and other "beautiful blossoms."
A memorial gathering will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20, at Byles-Groton Funeral Home, 310 Thames St., Groton.
Published in The Day on Aug. 18, 2016.