Royce Virgil Colby, 92, passed away Thursday July 21, 2016 in Raleigh, NC. He was born on March 21, 1924 in Terril, Iowa to Hazel and Melvin Colby. He married Jeanette Fladland in St. Paul, MN on Valentine's Day 1948. They were married for 61 years, always providing a welcoming home for their children, grandchildren, friends, and relatives. Royce was predeceased by his parents, his sister Leona Harries, and his beloved wife Jeanette, who died in 2009.
He is survived by his children-- Candace (Brian) Kennedy of Salem, OR; Jack (Brenda) Colby of Raleigh, NC; Cathy (Justin) Colby-Grauer of Ridgefield, CT; Beth (Peter) Manning of Pawcatuck, CT; and Christie (John) Hancock of Richmond, VA. He is also survived by ten grandchildren: Todd and Kevin Kennedy; Jennifer (fiancé Brian May), Jeffrey, and Stephen Colby; Jesse Grauer; Christopher, Thomas, and Amy Manning; and Callie Hancock and by his sister-in-law Elizabeth Finberg of Chisago City, MN.
Raised in southern Minnesota, Royce graduated in June 1942 from Jackson High School, where he excelled in athletics and music. Upon graduation, he began his career as a clerk with the FBI in Washington, DC.
In the fall of 1943, Royce enlisted in the Army Air Corps and served in the 8th Air Force, 2nd Air Division/European theatre in WWII, flying 27 missions as a tail gunner and radio operator on a B-24 Liberator with the 491st Bomb Group. On his 14th mission, the plane was hit by enemy fire and the crew was forced to bail out over Belgium. All but one crew member survived. T/Sgt Colby was decorated with the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, Purple Heart, and other commendations. A highlight of Royce's life was returning to the crash site in Belgium for the dedication of a monument in honor of the crew, organized by The Patton Drivers, Leuven Centraal, who remain friends to this day.
Royce graduated with a BS from The University of Minnesota in 1953 before continuing his career as a Special Agent at FBI offices in Minneapolis, Dallas, and New York, and then returned to the FBI Laboratory in Washington, DC. He retired in 1976 after 33 years with the Bureau.
After raising their family in Springfield, VA for 25 years, Royce and Jeanette moved to Salisbury, NC in 1981. There they enjoyed many years of retirement during which they traveled to re-connect with relatives and friends such as Ex-Agents Society; Ex-Communicators; 8th Air Force, 2nd Air Division, 491st Bomb Group and their Springfield group. Royce belonged to Salisbury Civitans, First Presbyterian Church, Salisbury Newcomers, and the American Legion where he attended many baseball games throughout the years. In 2014, he relocated to Raleigh, NC. The family is indebted to and thankful for the kindness of his friends and caregivers at Hillcrest, Raleigh and extends its deepest gratitude to the Patton Drivers Leuven Centraal, ever grateful for their dedication and steadfast vigilance in remembering and memorializing all of the brave troops who participated in the liberation of Europe during WWII.
The family will greet friends from noon to 1pm Friday, July 29 at Summersett Funeral Home, followed by a Celebration of Life service at 1pm. Military burial in Salisbury National Cemetery will follow at 2pm.
Memorials in Royce’s honor may be made to Salisbury Civitans or American Legion.