ROBERT W. COLBY
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COLBY, Robert W. of Newton, MA, 70, husband of Leslie and father of Allison and Jonathan, passed away on April 5, 2021 due to complications from pancreatic cancer. Robert was born to William and Carolyn (Cox) Colby. He graduated from Fairview High School in Fairview Park, Ohio as class valedictorian, and the University of Michigan. Robert went on to receive a Masters in Arts for Drama Theatre for the Young from Eastern Michigan University and an Ed.D in Human Development from Harvard University. Robert began his career in higher education as an instructor in theatre at Emerson College in 1977, and rose through the faculty ranks, becoming an assistant professor in 1982, earning tenure in 1988, and being promoted to full professor in 2014. He taught both graduate and undergraduate courses in theatre education, theatre for young audiences, and directing. Colby became the faculty assembly head in 2000, serving until 2002 and then again from 2015 to 2017. In 2019, he became Chair of the Department of Performing Arts, serving in that role until his death. As a passionate advocate for his fellow colleagues, he also served as president of the faculty union and was the recipient of four faculty service awards. He was published in Children's Theatre Review, Youth Theatre Journal, 2D: Drama/Dance, and Key Concepts in Theatre/Drama Education. He served in an editorial capacity on Youth Theatre Journal, New England Theatre Journal, Children's Theatre Review, and Applied Theatre Research. He served on various Boards, including American Alliance for Theatre and Education (AATE), Children's Theatre Foundation and Children's Theatre Association of America. He was twice honored for his contributions to the field of Theatre Education by the AATE with the Lin Wright Special Recognition Award (2003), and in 2020 with the Campton Bell Lifetime Achievement Award. As a theatre director, he directed the regional or national premiere of more than 30 plays written for Young Audiences. Robert's contributions to the world of theatre education extend across the United States and the world through the work of his students who admired and loved him, often describing him as the best teacher they ever had. His career legacy will be long and far-reaching. Robert was a fierce advocate for social justice, equity, and equal opportunity. In his private life, Robert was a loving husband, father, and grandfather. Playing with his young grandchildren and watching them grow was one of the great joys of his life. He was generous, kind, thoughtful, and funny. He will be sorely missed. He is survived by his wife Leslie, his two children, Allison and Jonathan, his three grandchildren, Louisa, Calvin, and Silvia, his mother Carolyn, his siblings Bruce and Nancy, and many cousins, nieces, and nephews. Due to the pandemic, the services will be private. In lieu of flowers, remembrances in his memory may be made to Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, 1500 Rosecrans Ave., Ste. 200, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266 or to ACLU Foundation of MA, 211 Congress St., Boston, MA 02110. Services by brezniakfd.com


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Published in Boston Globe from Apr. 6 to Apr. 7, 2021.
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Memories & Condolences
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8 entries
April 13, 2021
Bob and I were friends from his sophomore year in high school. We were both in the Thespian club of the high school drama club going on the NYC trip two years running. I knew his entire family, although not very well with the exception of his father whom I got to know fairly well through his job with the FBI. Sadly I lost touch with Bob after his graduation from UM. He was a good friend who knew how to have fun.

Condolences to all Bob's family.

Michael K. Hampu
Lakeland, FL
Michael K. Hampu
Friend
April 12, 2021
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Cinda Peters
April 11, 2021
My deepest sympathy to Bob's family. He was a great mentor and friend in my life for 40 years. I owe Bob a tremendous amount of gratitude for my success as a drama teacher. I will miss his kindness, insights, humor, and brilliance. We were all made better by his presence in the world.
Steven Bogart
Student
April 11, 2021
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Steven Bogart
April 8, 2021
Although I did not have the privilege of knowing Bob but for a few encounters at his mother's (Carolyn Colby) house. Carolyn was very proud of Bob and I know that his passing has left a void in the family. Rest easy, Bob.
Darlene Mulholland
Friend
April 7, 2021
I met Bob a couple of times. He has contributed so much to the Arts and will be remembered for many, many years. I was privileged to
follow his amazing career through Carolyn, my friend. May God help
all of you through this difficult time.
Marge Forrester
Acquaintance
April 7, 2021
My deepest condolences to the family.
The world was a better place because of Bob. He was a master teacher and my early years of working with Bob were an honor.
I am so sorry the performing arts world has lost this man of deep integrity.
Prilly Sanville
Coworker
April 7, 2021
My deepest condolences to the family.
The world was a better place because of Bob. He was a master teacher and my early years of working with Bob were an honor.
I am so sorry the performing arts world has lost this man of deep integrity.
Prilly Sanville
Coworker
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