William Bradford Rollins
Writer, editor, musician, artist, photographer, athlete, avid traveler, (did I say punster and procrastinator?), he was born Nov. 25, 1933, in Berlin, N.H. His name, William Bradford Rollins, honors his legacy as a 14th generation American.
Bill went to Foxborough High School in Foxboro, Mass., where he played basketball, was tight end on a Class D-championship football team and captain of the baseball team.
At Dartmouth College, Class of 1955, he went on a spring ski trip to Stowe, Vt. He hit a tree and broke both legs. On the same day, April 9, two years later, he was to get multiple fractures when a cable hit him in the face while he was working on a construction job.
In his early 20s, Bill married a Swedish woman and they had a son, Krister, and a daughter, Lynn-Eve. They divorced after 8 years.
His first job (with an English degree) was teaching skiing in the Catskill Mountains. He became a ski school director at Davos USA and Woodridge ski area. While riding up the chairlift one day, he met an editor from the Newburgh-Beacon News and was given a tryout that led to a 50-year journalistic career, moving from Newburgh to the Middletown Times Herald Record to the Denver Post, the Aspen Illustrated News, Aspen Times, San Diego Union, and, for the last 20 years, the Los Angeles Times.
At the Middletown Record, his fellow reporters included Hunter Thompson and Malcolm Browne, who later won a Pulitzer Prize for his photo of a monk’s self immolation. He was managing editor at the Illustrated News and let everyone set their hours and urged them to learn every job at the paper.
As an Aspen Times reporter, Bill was given an award by the Colorado Press Association for the best news story of the year for an interview with serial killer Ted Bundy. These 16 years in Aspen were busy times. He also wrote a play, “Had a Great Fall,” that was produced by the American Theater Institute. Another, “The 40th Day,” was presented on Grassroots radio. He became editor of Climbing magazine and co-editor of Mountain Gazette. He played the piano with the Romance Jazz Band. Free-lance articles were published in Ski magazine and The Atlantic. He traveled to France,
Chile and Patagonia on writing assignments.
He met his wife, Mary Lynn Mayo, when she came to Aspen from California to await the results of her bar exam. They dated back and forth between Aspen and the west coast for six years before she said, “One of us has got to move, and it’s not going to be me.”
She was a public defender in San Diego at that time, so he became a copy editor at the San Diego Union. Mary Lynn got a job as a prosecutor in Los Angeles, so he moved to the Los Angeles Times where he was a writer-editor in special sections for the remainder of his career.
They lived in Manhattan Beach, had a son, Will, and a daughter, Megan. Megan and husband, Andrew, have a son, William Bradford aka Ford, and a daughter, Marigold. Son Will and partner Paolo live in Hermosa Beach and have several plants. Back east, Lynn-Eve and husband, Scott, have a daughter, Isabella, now in college. Son Krister is married to Lynn Ann and has a son, also named Krister, who is pursuing comedy.
Traveling with family and friends continued to be important throughout his life, and recent trips included China, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and New Zealand.
As a notorious procrastinator, Bill did not finish this obituary before he passed away on Feb. 7 (he may have been anticipating an April 9 deadline), but he did leave us with love, optimism, and these final words of advice: “Listen to music. Go ski.”
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