A Kansas community is mourning the loss of a photographer who fell and hit her head during a high school football game.
The woman, 69-year-old Linda Gregory, was a photographer for Northwest High School in Wichita, reported television station KAKE.
She was photographing a junior varsity football game on Sept. 4 when she was hit on the sidelines, fell and hit her head on concrete, the outlet reported.
Her husband, Mel Gregory, first shared the news on Facebook on Sept. 4. She was hit by players as they fell out of bounds, he wrote in the post.
He posted a series of updates for family and friends over the next few days. The family was initially told she could be released from the hospital in a few days and she was under monitoring for brain bleed, he reported. She was incoherent but doctors were keeping an eye on her and running scans.
The next day, her husband shared that her condition may not improve.
“It is not good news,” he wrote last Tuesday afternoon. “Linda is on life support awaiting the arrival of family. I appreciate every concern and prayers. She was doing what she loved.”
Later that night, her husband shared that there was “little hope left for” Linda but she “might live on in the bodies of others” via organ transplant.
Three days later, her husband shared a short post to let the public know she had passed on.
“She has passed and is at peace,” he wrote in his post.
Kansas woman had a spicy’ sense of humor, daughter says
Sonya Dingman, Gregory’s daughter, said she knew her mother was amazing but the outpour of love from community members has wowed her.
“It’s just overwhelming in a good way to me, how amazing she was,” Dingman told USA TODAY. “She made everyone feel special. That was her thing.”
Gregory had three dogs – her fur babies Sissy, Heidi and Petey. Sissy was very attached to her and misses her a lot, her daughter said Wednesday afternoon.
Dingman said her mother did everything to make her happy. She cracked jokes and had a “spicy” sense of humor, often commenting on wardrobe choices.
“Did they even see themselves in the mirror when they left today?” she’d say.
Her mother liked to trade jabs a bit, Dingman said. When she was able to sit with her mother at the hospital recently, that’s exactly what she did.
“I was just talking to her like normal,” she recalled, adding that her mother cared about people though. She gave everyone the benefit of the doubt, her daughter said. Her mother taught her how to do the same.
She was into gardening and grew cantaloupe and mint. She also grew tomatoes at one point and lots of different, “very beautiful” flowers,” her daughter said.
Her mother liked watching The TRY Channel on YouTube, where people from Ireland try foods from other countries.
“I am so (expletive) lucky that I got to call her ‘Mom,'” she said.
Photographer was friendly and great at what she did, family says
Gregory’s husband, Mel, posted many memories and updates on social media after her accident, reflecting on their 23-year marriage. Being married to her was “close to perfection,” he said.
The pair traveled together to Germany, Austria, Switzerland and even Romania, where she photographed a gymnastics team before the Olympics. The pair later returned to Romania because they’d made friends there who wanted her to photograph their wedding.
“We went to the Czech Republic several times and it was magic to see the wonder in her eyes as she discovered Prague and Cesky Krumlov,” her husband wrote. “Finally, I got her to one of her most favored places in the world, Ireland and she loved it. In every country, she was interested in not only seeing things but interacting with the people of the country.”
She made friends wherever she went, he recalled.
Her husband reflected on their age cap, calling himself “older than her by quite a bit,” and adding that he wasn’t quite sure why she chose him to spend her life with.
“It was fate,” she told him.
His wish is that moving forward, people will carry on the goodness she showed each day and “do away with hate, prejudice, unequal treatment, and sexism.”
“A woman like Linda comes around somewhat infrequently and I was so damned lucky to have had her love me,” he said. “I do not want Facebook to be all about me and her but I wanted you to know more about my lovely angel wife, Linda Gregory.”
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Honoring the wife, mother and photographer
After she died, the high school shared photos of her and a short tribute in her honor, calling her a longtime supporter and photographer at the school.
New York Jets running back Breece Hall, who went to Northwest High School, shared a post from Gregory, offering condolences.
Calling the late photographer his soulmate, her husband said she did not want “anything fancy” for a memorial. Instead, the family attended a football game at the school and took photos in her honor.
Her husband said online that some of the football players, who she lovingly called “her boys,” are traumatized and he wanted to support them.
“She doesn’t blame any of the kids,” he said at the game. “This was her school. She didn’t go to any school. She’s from Iowa. But she loved these people. We would like everybody to know the kids are her primary concern.”
Her husband is also a photographer, KAKE reported. The couple first started taking photos at Northwest High sports events in 2014.
In solidarity, the school put stickers on their helmets with her initials and prior to the game, there was a moment of silence for her. Her husband said the gesture made him proud of the school, the players and his wife, whose impact reached far and wide.
Linda Gregory leaves behind her daughter and son, Sonya and Lance Dingman, as well as two stepchildren and step grandchildren.
The family started a scholarship fund for young photographers to honor Linda and her husband is grateful for the support the community has shown the family in the wake of their loss.
“We love the support from the team members of the Grizzlies and just want you to know that she would have been gobsmacked (a term she loved) to know of your caring,” he wrote.
To donate to the scholarship fund, visit www.tinyurl.com/LindaPhotog.