Friends, family, and members of the community met at San Lorenzo Park's duck pond on Saturday afternoon to celebrate the life of Shannon Kathleen Collins, 38.
, as she was walking on Broadway Street in the late morning of May 7th in Santa Cruz.
At the park today, Collins's husband, Ken Vinson, spoke to a large crowd, which included many members of the community who hadn't even known her personally, as well as many who knew her very well. It was a tearful day.
A Physical Anthropology major at UC Santa Cruz, Collins and her husband owned the adult novelty store , taking it over in 2006. In his touching speech, Vinson referred to his wife as a "paradox."
"She never tried to kill a bug, she would rather release it to the wild," said Vinson of his wife who also loved to grow her own vegetables and flowers, and was a die hard supporter of the local organic movement.
"So the thing is, is when you paint this picture, you get this image of this sweet Santa Cruz hippie chick. Yeah, not so much," said Vinson, and many laughed knowingly.
In her own words, Collins was a "navy brat". She grew up around sailors, and had a crude sense of humor.
"And that was one of the things that most attracted to me to her I have to say. You could always count on her to take the conversation down a notch," joked Vinson.
She also loved her happy hours and could often be found downtown "enjoying a drink or three" at the or at the , he said.
Collins was also a talented cook and a foodie, and she is remembered for her way of reaching out to people in need.
"Her favorite Christmas ritual was to make Christmas dinner at the house and invite all of her friends in town who for whatever reason didn't have a place to go, and serve them a nice Christmas meal," said Vinson.
In the weeks following her death, Vinson says he had so many people come to him and tell him how Collins had helped them in their hard times.
"I assure you, neither Shannon nor myself had any idea how many people she had touched. The response from the city of Santa Cruz and from our professional community has been mind blowing," said Vinson.
"So I want you to know it worked, honey. You truly made a difference and it mattered. A lot," said Vinson.
One of Collins' favorite parts of working in the downtown store Camouflage was her role as a certified Sex Educator. She once told her husband about a 40-year-old woman she had helped one day in the store. The woman came back to the store the next day to thank her for helping her to reach the first orgasm she ever had in her forty years of life.
Also present at the memorial were Chip of the and city council member Lynn Robinson, who said:
"With Shannon in our hearts and by our side, I feel the community heart of Santa Cruz in our soul, and it is radiant."
Friends who helped put on the event were surprised at the turn out which was around 150 people, and was held at the duck pond, a fitting place since Collins loved ducks.
"It's been an amazing event. It's just unbelievable how many people love her and how she's just always going to be part of our lives," said her best friend, Violet Smith.
Friends and familiy were giving little paper envelopes with live butterflies inside, and released these towards the end of the ceremony.
"We hope they will find their way to the backyard where Collins spent so much time," said Christine Brooks, a long time friend who actually married Vinson and Collins.
"Today is all about celebrating the life of Shannon and the many many people who love her, because her life has touched so many. She had been there with me both in really tough times and in celebration, and that's just what Shannon did, she was there for people," said Brooks, who says she will miss their Sunday dinners.
"We spent our free time together," said Brooks.
Sambada played a few songs for Collins, since many of the band members had worked with Collins over the years. Flowers were donated by Collins' two favorite garden shops: The Garden Company and ProBuild.