The Passing of a Legend: The Life and Legacy of Kathleen Fox Collins

"My mantra - and I'm unrelenting about this - is that the music comes first. Because if the music isn't good, then what is the point"

- Kathleen Fox Collins

by Nathan Newbrough

Kathleen Collins ran away from home at the age of three. What inspired her to wander from her mother’s sight that day, into the mysterious world that lay beyond the gate of her own front yard, is anyone’s guess. But such is the life of an insatiable seeker of truths.

Kathleen’s family lived in Mexico in those days. They owned a big house enclosed by an adobe wall with an iron gate. How she slipped out, unnoticed, was a mystery. What’s also a mystery is why she chose to carry a silver spoon with her on this adventure, and perhaps more intriguing, what she hoped to unearth with it. There’s a great deal about Kathleen Collins’ life we can look back on with quiet admiration. But it’s her remarkable sense of curiosity—and the gifts her curiosity gave life to—that make her legacy so powerful.

Kathleen was more than just an ambassador of the arts. She was a guardian angel of our community’s cultural treasures.

It was Kathleen’s early work with Charles Ansbacher and the irrepressible Bee Vradenburg, that helped bring us—among other community jewels—the Pikes Peak Center, a new home for the Colorado Springs Symphony.

Kathleen was a lover of fine music, and she championed it wherever she went. She supported musicians. Promoted new musical venues. Shared her generous artistic vision with the entire city.

“We weren’t musicians ourselves,” Kathleen once said of her family. “But we were deeply and profoundly appreciative of music. Even when I was a little girl, I liked the way it made people happy.”

Kathleen didn’t play an instrument, herself. She claimed it was a calling beyond her talents. But her passion for artistic invention took her from Denver to New York City, and finally here, to Colorado Springs, where her life’s work and amazing legacy grew to a stature few ever achieve.

Foresters say the best place to plant a tree is not in an open field, but among others of its kind, where the seedling’s roots can follow the pathways of older trees. It’s quite common, these foresters say, for the roots of young trees to graft themselves to those of their elders, thereby inheriting the strength they need to live and grow and thrive. The same can be said, I think, of the human community.

Kathleen Collins was that rare breed whose heart and soul created pathways for others, and who helped others grow and thrive. She was a gifted woman whose dreams reached for perfection. Whose aesthetic roots connected us, one generation to the next.

Kathleen loved art. She loved culture. She loved music, and she loved bringing it to others.

“Every day is like a scene in a fantastic play,” she’d say. “And as a player in that drama, you come to understand your relationship to other players within the larger narrative. You learn that each part is necessary to the whole, and that even the smallest elements have an impact on the meaning of the work.” 

It didn’t trouble Kathleen that life was uncertain, or unpredictable. Rather, it excited and energized her. Like all visionaries with a keen sense of curiosity, she could stare into the vast distance of tomorrow and take pleasure in the promise of its unknown possibilities. Legacy, to Kathleen, was a fellowship. A living reliquary of stories, traditions, memories, and hopes, kept alive by the strength of faith. 

It was a dream in which we were all connected. A sacred gift that we were all obligated to pass along to our children and grandchildren. Kathleen believed in miracles and mysteries. And who knows? Given more time, she might have turned loose the curious three year-old who still lived inside her, and gotten to the bottom of them with that tiny silver spoon.
We can only imagine.

Come celebrate the remarkable life and enduring legacy of Kathleen Fox Collins, a cherished member of the arts community in Colorado Springs and champion for the Colorado Springs Philharmonic. Kathleen’s passion for the arts touched the lives of many, leaving an indelible mark on our hearts.

Your presence and support will provide comfort to her loved ones and serve as a testament to the profound influence she had on our community.

11am Sunday, June 11, 2023
Ent Center for the Arts
5225 N. Nevada Ave.
Colorado Springs, CO