This obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.
Rosemary Collins’s classical voice training came through clearly when she sang arias. But she was just as comfortable belting out Meat Loaf, numbers from “Les Misérables” and “all those big ‘80s power ballads,” her husband, Stan Collins, said.
Mrs. Collins loved bringing different genres together in her programs at the church where she was music director, and in the Florida schools where she taught music. “She had a very eclectic style,” Mr. Collins said. “But she knew how to throw down.” She could even yodel.
Mrs. Collins died on Dec. 22 at a hospital in Clearwater, Fla., near her home in Palm Harbor. She was 51. The cause was complications of the coronavirus; she died just a few days after experiencing symptoms, her husband said.
Rosemary Caldwell was born on April 9, 1969, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Her mother, Sidney (Lindsey) Caldwell, was a math teacher, and her father, Richard Caldwell was an environmental scientist. After graduating from Countryside High School in 1986, she earned a bachelor of music degree in vocal performance in 1991 from the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg and a master of music degree in vocal performance from Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond two years later.
She met Mr. Collins in their college jazz choir, and they married in 1993.
Mrs. Collins taught music for nearly two decades in the Pinellas County Schools, most recently as the director of choral activities at Clearwater High School. “That job meant everything to her,” Mr. Collins said. “She had such a passion for kids and public education.”
She was also the director of music at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Clearwater. The Rev. Andrew Walton, the pastor, said Mrs. Collins had raised the bar on all things musical over her two-year tenure, incorporating popular tunes into the choral program and bringing in guest musicians.
“Her boundary between secular and sacred was rather foggy, which matches mine,” he said, recalling that he was led to slide the Beatles into his sermons thanks to her.
Her role put Mrs. Collins in the social center of the church as well. “I would venture to say there are 100 people right now talking about their best friend Rosemary,” he said a few days after she died.
In addition to Mr. Collins, she is survived by her mother; a daughter, Lindsey; a son, Griffin; her sister, Ann Caldwell Adair; and her brother, Richard Allen Caldwell. Her children are both active in music; Lindsey Collins is a voice major at Florida State University in Tallahassee.
“She sounds just like her mother when she sings,” Mr. Collins said. “That keeps her with me.”