Death of E. Steven Collins has opened a wound in Philly’s social network
ABOVE PHOTO: Philly journalists, friends and family eagerly awaited the annual PABJ pool party at E. Steven Collins’ home.
(Photo by Robert Mendelsohn)
By J. Whyatt Mondesire
A gaping hole has been ripped in the social fabric of Philadelphia with the unexpected death of E. Steven Collins; radio personality, news commentator, businessman and civic provocateur and activist.
Less than 48 hours before he was rushed to Chestnut Hill Hospital’s cardiac unit, Collins had been holding court at his spacious home in Laverock where he regularly hosted the annual summer social outing for the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists.
As was his constant quality, Collins had used this social occasion to strengthen relationships between the new additions to the region’s TV, radio and print journalists’ fraternity and the veterans in order that the newbies would feel more welcome.
Smiling and full of jokes about his radio station, Radio One, where he was director of urban marketing, Collins, or “E,” as everyone called him, kept his friends and family enthralled for hours while he flipped hamburgers and hot dogs when he wasn’t lathering the chicken with barbeque sauce.
It was this special knack of Collins, his skillfulness at fostering strong working relationships with disparate people and groups that makes his death such a great loss in a city where true leadership is in such short supply.
All of the accolades and official titles that Collins carried as part of his professional responsibilities don’t really reflect his real contribution to Philadelphia.
It was his deep and unwavering commitment to the youth (especially the welfare of troubled black boys) development and his faith in education and economic equality for all, that made him such a standout.
His work behind the scenes especially known to those of us in public life is what we knew we could always count on. When a meeting of leaders was called and those in attendance saw that E. Steven Collins was in the room, it was obvious that indeed this was a meeting that should be taken seriously.
Collins was not a man who let you waste his time. The hole in Philly’s social network left by Collins’ death has echoed throughout the city’s political, business and media communities. His footprint was huge. His loss will be colossal in scope. His widow and two sons have barely had a chance to grieve as the house since Monday has been crowded with sobbing well-wishers from all walks of life, who were either guided by Collins or who had sought his help in some way or another.
I will miss my friend. But more importantly I grieve for his family and his hometown, who not only lost a husband and a father; but also a selfless benefactor whose contributions to the common welfare are too numerous to count.
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