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Carol Collins-Swasey, 76, a former journalist and retired real estate agent who died in the Tubbs fire, was remembered by one of her brothers as “magic.”

Born in January 1941 in Louisville, Kentucky, she shuttled as a child between her divorced parents’ homes in Georgia and Chicago, and became “an independent, strong individual with a wicked sense of irreverent humor,” her family wrote in an obituary.

She studied journalism at the University of Iowa before working in Los Angeles and elsewhere as a journalist.

She moved to Cloverdale in the late 1970s where she owned an office supply store before becoming a real estate agent in 1987, most of that time with Century 21.

She died at her Coffey Park home Oct. 9. Her husband, Jim Swasey, was out of town the night of the fire.

“She was older, smarter, prettier each visit,” her obituary said of the young Collins-Swasey.

“The three brothers did not know if we should be delighted by her or if we should get out of her way. She was a bit glamorous and a bit demanding, but always magic.”

In a style true to her characteristic humor, she insisted on writing her own obituary, which the family incorporated into a larger one created in her memory.

“If you are reading this, I am dead,” she wrote.

“And no, I did not look this good when I checked out.”

She poked fun at herself in the obituary, writing that while she was “blessed with some talents and was successful in several professional fields …” “I never stayed long with anything — jobs, houses, husbands or friends — until moving to Sonoma County.”

For years, Collins-Swasey worked as a volunteer with the Red Cross, helping out with fireworks at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds and recently at the Sutter Hospice Thrift Store.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by three brothers, Kent Collins, of Columbia, Missouri; Paul H. Collins of Tiger, Georgia, and Todd Collins of Philadelphia; four stepchildren and several grandchildren.

You can reach Staff Writer Christi Warren at 707-521-5205 or On Twitter @SeaWarren.