In memoriam: Jeff Colby (1951-2021)

Jeff Colby stands on the Marquam Hill campus with Kohler Pavilion in the background. He wears a white shirt and a blue hat emblazoned with the word "Library"
Jeff Colby. Source: OHSU Library staff photos.

It is with great sadness that the OHSU Library shares the news that our colleague, Jeff Colby, passed away in late January 2021 at the age of 69.

Born in Southern California, Jeff started his career at OHSU in the late 1970s, and held various positions in over forty years at the Library, including as a circulation assistant, office specialist, and library technician I & II. From 2010 onward, Jeff split his time between Access Services and Historical Collections & Archives, where the Library was fortunate to benefit from Jeff’s institutional knowledge and passion for historical research. Alongside processing large, high-use collections, Jeff worked tirelessly to improve our reference collections like the biographical and subject files, which remain go-to starting points for questions related to OHSU history.

Over the years, Jeff made long-lasting friendships with colleagues new and old. He was just as good at keeping up with retired colleagues as he was at cheering on the many student workers with whom he crossed paths at the circulation desk over the years. Many of us have fond memories of Jeff’s cheerful greeting and tip of his trademark “Library” hat as he steered collections between campus buildings.

Jeff Colby recognized for over 10 years of service, 1991. Source: Library records, 1998-015.

Jeff was the memory holder for much of the Library’s history, as well as for OHSU in general. He would often regale those lucky enough to work with him with stories from days of yore, from the tweed suits and flashy designs of the 70s, to the changes the 80s and 90s saw with the advancement of this thing called the World Wide Web. Stories ranged from individual events such as large, lively campus holiday parties, to logistical headaches such as the move from the Auditorium to the BICC in the 1990s. Jeff was the forty-year anchor of such information to the changing crews that ticked by in the Access Services department, from the days of card catalogs to the mobile age we live in now. And through it all, he was the rock of Access Services that was cherished for his steady kindness, his knowledge, and his stories. He was the friendly face that welcomed many patrons by name as they came to use our services.

A horizontally split image depicts a black and white slideshow of Marquam Hill campus photo on top, and on bottom, a hand holds up a page that lists "35 years: Academic Affairs: Jeffy Colby: Library Technician 2"
In May 2015, staff were proud to celebrate Jeff’s 35 years of service to OHSU. Source: @OHSUHistColl on Instagram

Always the gentleman, with his own unique flair, Jeff would close the Library each day by calling out “It’s 6 o’clock and all is well. The Library is now closed.”

Jeff’s legacy will continue to be meaningful to his colleagues and to our community for years to come. We miss him.

Read a Q&A with Jeff upon his retirement in September 2020.