LYNDA COLLINS Lynda Collins, a pioneer among female sportswriters, passed away Sunday, Feb. 17, 2008, at Spring Valley Hospital in Las Vegas. Born Lynda Jean Morstadt in Akron, Ohio, June 30, 1946, to Ray and Gladys Morstadt, she got her looks from her mother, the former Gladys Perry who was a beauty pageant queen in the early 1940s, and her love of sports from her father, who was the leading scorer on the Marquette basketball team from 1932-35. Mr. Morstadt played semi-pro in the National Basketball League (this was before the NBA was founded in 1946) for the Goodyear Tire / Rubber Company in Akron, where he met his bride-to-be. The family moved to the Chicago suburb of Waukegan, Ill., where Lynda grew up as a big fan of the White Sox and the Bears. As a teenager, she would sneak out of her house and take the train to the South Side of Chicago to see the White Sox play at old Comiskey Park. While still in high school, she started writing for her hometown paper, the Waukegan News-Sun. She studied journalism at North Central College in Naperville, Ill., and was editor of the student newspaper, "The Chronicle," and wrote about civil rights issues during a time of racial unrest, both on campus and throughout the country. She was graduated by NCC in 1968, the year Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Lynda Morstadt became the Midwest's first female sportswriter in 1969, when she was hired by the Chicago's American newspaper. She encountered discrimination of her own. In the book "Jerome Holtzman on Baseball: A History of Baseball Scribes," Mr. Holtzman describes when he was the local chairman for the Baseball Writers Association of America and he was able to keep Lynda in the White Sox press box, though the team was able to ban her from the clubhouse. Lynda's career took her to stints with the Rocky Mountain News in Denver, the Associated Press bureau in Los Angeles (where she covered such events as the 1976 death of Howard Hughes and the 1976 presidential campaign visits of Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter), the Daily Oklahoman in Oklahoma City, and to Houston where she did a sports talk radio show and pre- and post-game shows for the Astros. She returned to Illinois and met John Collins, whom she married in Waukegan, Ill., Dec. 31, 1982. They were on the way to moving to San Diego in 1983, when they stopped in Las Vegas. Lynda was hired by the Review-Journal and fell in love with the city. She wrote feature stories, covered the pro bowling tour and became the paper's first sports gaming writer in 1984. That became her niche, as she went on to work for Sportsform, the weekly gaming newspaper that is now known as GamingToday, in 1990, and then moved into cyberspace for sports betting websites that have included theprescription, gambling911, phoenixsports, vegasinsider, procappers, and most recently, the ViewFromVegas. Lynda's last wish was to be cremated and have her ashes scattered at Comiskey Park (she refused to call it by any corporate name) in Chicago and Del Mar Racecourse near San Diego. Lynda is survived by her husband, John Collins, 64, of Las Vegas; her daughter, Jennifer S. Collins, 36, of Aurora, Colo.; her granddaughter, Alexis R. Brown, 7, of Aurora, Colo.; her brother, William Morstadt of Waukegan, Ill.; her sister, Gail Driscoll of Chicago; nephews, Keith Barnett, Ryan Barnett and Eric Morstadt; nieces, Kris Barnett and Andrea Lack; and a Lhasa Apso, named Sox. In honor of her lifelong love of animals, especially dogs, Collins' family requests in lieu of flowers, that all gifts or memorials be made to the Humane Society. A memorial gathering will be from 5-7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22, for her friends, co-workers and readers in the Plaza Hotel's Dome Sports Lounge (formerly the Center Stage Restaurant, where Lynda had many dinners when covering the pro bowlers tour in the 80s), overlooking Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas.
Published in Las Vegas Review-Journal on Feb. 22, 2008.