TAMPA - I was saddened to hear of the passing of Colleen Walker.
We knew her fight against cancer had almost hit a decade.
Now the pain is gone.
I met Colleen in the prime of her LPGA career in the 1990's.
It was time she won three times in 1992 and then a major, the Du Maurier Classic in Canada in 1997.
Colleen, along with fellow LPGA players Dawn Coe-Jones and Dale Eggeling were kind enough to give their time to take part in a golf segment I was doing where proceeds went to the Cancer Society.
Colleen and I taped her segment at Bloomingdale Golf Club, not far from her Valrico home.
I met her husband, and teacher Ron Bakich at that time. Their son, Tyler Walker wasn't born yet.
What a gracious couple.
Colleen was an avid sports fan.
She knew her stuff.
What I remember most about Colleen was her smile, her serene demeanor, and her love for the game she played so well.
She had a sense of humor as well.
I got my share of pokes from Colleen.
I even got a couple of golf tips, which I needed desperately.
She even bought me a beer on Bourbon Street in New Orleans the year Florida played Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl.
We had laughs. Life was going so well.
In January of 2003, Colleen was diagnosed with breast cancer.
We were all concerned, but Colleen returned to the tour in September.
Colleen retired from tour life in 2004. Became a full-time mom and wife.
Then last year, the cancer came back, only this time it spread to her hips, pelvis, and eventually the rest of her body.
Gone is her smile, her passion for life and her family, and to many that knew her, a great friend.