Hale and Dorr Mourns Loss of Executive Director

Hale and Dorr Mourns Loss of Executive Director


John R. (Jack) Colbert, Jr. of Wellesley and Nantucket, MA, died at Brigham and Women’s hospital in Boston on March 22, 2002, after fighting a long, difficult battle with prostate cancer. He was 56 years old.

Jack Colbert was first and foremost devoted to his family which provided him tremendous support throughout his lengthy struggle with cancer. He was the beloved son of John R. and the late Mary Louise Colbert of Wellesley. He is survived by his loving wife, Cheryl, of thirty-two years; his children Samantha, son-in-law Todd, and grandson Tyler Jack Greenfield of Needham; Sarah of Boston, John and Natalie of Wellesley. He is also survived by his brother Fred Colbert of Shrewsbury, and sisters Patricia Colbert and Janet Thornton of Florida.

Mr. Colbert was born in Dorchester and grew up in Belmont. He was a graduate of Boston College High School. He received a B.S. in Industrial Engineering in 1969 and an MBA in 1973, both from Northeastern University. He began his career as an Operations Research Assistant at Bank of New England and in 1976 joined Prime Computer Corporation as Manager of Financial Planning and Analysis. The next year he was appointed Director of Treasury Services, a role he held until 1981 when he was recruited to M/A-Com to be its Treasurer. In 1985, Contel ASC (formerly American Satellite Company) recruited him to Rockville, Maryland, to be its Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. In 1989, he became President of its International Division, but his yearning to get back to Boston led him later that year to accept an offer to join Hale and Dorr as its Executive Director.

Mr. Colbert was a pioneer in the professional field of law firm executive directors, having been recruited from a successful business career to take on that role in 1989 when there were very few role models, locally or nationally. With an engaging personality, a keen eye for talent, and an astute management style, Mr. Colbert quickly established himself as a key member of the firm’s management team. He soon became the role model for others entering that profession and became a leader in the national Association of Legal Administrators (ALA), serving as a member of the Board of Directors and as a panelist and roundtable chair at annual conferences.

In 1995, he discovered that he had prostate cancer, a challenge that he met with his usual determination and optimism. He tried to learn everything he could about the disease and participated in several experimental treatment programs in an effort to win his battle with cancer. Throughout his protracted treatment, he contributed his organizational skills and a great deal of his diminishing energy on the Board of Directors of the National Prostate Cancer Coalition. He was also President, Director and founding member of the Massachusetts Prostate Cancer Coalition, an organization devoted to raising the public’s consciousness about the disease and the importance of early detection and treatment. Through that Coalition, he helped start “Conquer and Cure” an annual prostate cancer fundraising event in Boston.

An avid golfer, Mr. Colbert was an accomplished and competitive player at both Braeburn Country Club and on Nantucket where he and his family enjoyed their summers. His gregarious and generous nature won him many friends in many different settings. He was a member of The Union Club and served on the Board of Trustees of The Children’s Museum and as an Overseer of Northeastern University.

A memorial service will be held at Wellesley Congregational Village Church, 2 Central Street, Wellesley at 11:00 a.m., Thursday, March 28. Visiting hours at Waterman and Sons Funeral Home, 592 Washington Street, Wellesley are on Wednesday, March 27, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. Burial will be private.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in Jack's memory to either The Massachusetts Prostate Cancer Coalition, 30 Speen Street, Framingham, MA 01701; The Wellesley Cancer Prevention Project, P.O. Box 812387, Wellesley, MA 02482; or The Wellesley Village Church "Moving Forward in Faith" Project, 2 Central Street, Wellesley, MA 02482.