Tom “Taco” Collins
Thomas R. Collins, or as friends and family knew him, “Taco,” born and raised in Norman, Oklahoma, passed away peacefully at home after a long fight with cancer on September 26, 2019. He was born July 17, 1946 in Norman, Oklahoma.
Tom was a lifelong Norman resident. He graduated from Norman High School. After high school, he attended the University of Oklahoma and served in the National Guard before resettling in his cherished hometown. His interests were all Sooner sports, golf, and sprint car racing.
If there were sprint cars racing, you knew you could always find Taco in Oklahoma City at the Fairgrounds. Whether it be the Gastineau family; Steve, Whit, Bo or Charlie. Or, the Jennings family; Ernest, Bruce Rickey or Danny. You could count on Taco and his friends Lumber Lady Patsy Shelley and Kenny Mossman there too.
As everyone knows, Taco’s true passion was the University of Oklahoma and his beloved Sooners. Tom was a born and bred Oklahoma Sooner fan, and he never missed a home game in 63 years. His devotion to his home team was legendary among friends and family, as well as his extended family at Oklahoma. Taco was an avid volunteer both for the University of Oklahoma, and the Big XII Conference. He filled many roles over the years for the Big XII, working as security for media staff at 7 Cotton Bowls, including 2 College Football Playoff Semifinals and the first CFP National Championship Game in 2015. Taco began his work for the Big XII Conference Communications Department in 2007. Whether it was football, men’s or women’s basketball, baseball, softball, or golf, Taco was a devoted supporter at local and regional sporting events. During his time volunteering, he became the team host at the Big XII Football and men’s and women’s basketball where he developed strong relationships with coaches and players alike. He even developed a strong relationship with coaches, players, and staff of the University of West Virginia, which became his second favorite team.
The events that Taco was most known for, and that were by far his favorite, were OU Women’s Softball, and the Women’s College World Series. For 27 years, he was a fixture at the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City. Taco was often referred to as the most well-known person at the ballpark. He could be found driving his golf cart to ferry players and coaches to press conferences, serving as a press conference moderator, photographer steward, or press conference stage manager. He was always there to do what needed to be done and fill in for any task or job that needed completed. Taco could always be found watching every game from his perch near the press box, or as he referred to it, “The Taco Stand.”
Tom was preceded in death by his parents Clarence and Marjorie, both of Norman. Tom is survived by his brother Carl and sister Eola, both of Norman. He is also survived by many other nieces and nephews.
There will be a small family service provided by Havenbrook Funeral Home in Norman. A public memorial service is being planned to accommodate Taco’s many friends, business and volunteer relations as well as his extended Sooner family. The date of the memorial is scheduled for Sunday 20 October 2019 at 4:00PM on Martita Hynes Field at the Oklahoma Softball Complex. The fields location is 2500 S. Jenkins 73072 on the University of Oklahoma Campus. As this is a celebration of Taco and his life, the family requests attendees to come casual and sport his Team Taco colors or Oklahoma team wear.
The family has requested than in lieu of flowers, and at Taco’s request, donations in Taco’s memory may be made to the University of Oklahoma for use in the construction of the new Women’s Softball Complex which is currently in the planning stages.
Arrangements for Tom were placed in the care of Havenbrook Funeral Home of Norman. Online condolences may be shared at www.HavenbrookFuneralHome.com