In Memoriam


In Memory of

Michael E. Colbert

January 8, 2019


Michael E. Colbert, 63, of Durban, France, died Jan. 8, 2019, in France, where he lived since 2002. Born in Concord, he was the son of Edward Colbert and predeceased by his mother, Dorothy (Hoar) Colbert, and his late brother, Edward. He was a graduate of Concord-Carlisle High School, class of 1973, and graduated cum laude from University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in 1978 with a degree in environmental design. While there, he spent a semester in Toulouse, France, with The Experiment in International Living. He also received a master’s degree in renewable natural resource studies from the University of Arizona, Tucson, in 1988.

He spent two years in the Peace Corps working with other volunteers to develop woodlots, tree planting and soil conservation in rural Nigerian villages. He studied ballet and modern dance at Jacob’s Pillow in Lee, Massachusetts, and the Harkness School of Ballet and the Alvin Ailey School, both in New York. Becoming a professional dancer, he performed in Boston, New York, Martha’s Vineyard and Tel-Aviv. He studied art with several venues while living in Arizona. With his keen intellect and sense of purpose, he managed to blend his wide range of talents and skills in the arts with his lifelong commitment to sustainable environmental practices and land conservation.

Michael worked for several years with The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. He was involved in such projects as the design of zoological exhibits for city zoos, landscape restoration projects in New York’s Central Park, and the exterior landscaping of one of the World Trade Towers. He held similar positions, as well, in Tucson and in Boston where he managed a graphic production team for the Central Artery’s final report to the state’s Office of Transportation and Construction. He also owned and managed a sheep farm in Benson, Vermont. Prior to selling this farm, Michael brought together owners of adjoining farms who collectively agreed to give up their development rights in exchange for permanent protection of 775 acres of prime agricultural land.

He moved to France where he bought and managed a sheep farm in Durban located in the farming region in the country’s southwest. Annually, he bred 250 sheep resulting in 450 lambs. His husbandry practices meant no pesticides and only organic feed. Using the contours of his property, he planted trees and created oases to provide sun protection and water holes for his animals. He kept horses for working the farm, hayrides and competing in jumping and riding events. He was visited regularly by family and friends who enjoyed his engaging wit, his passion for the land, and assisted with the annual lambing season.

Michael is survived by his father, Edward M. Colbert and partner Beverly Simpson, of Marblehead; his brothers Stephen Colbert and wife Bethany, of Manchester-by-the-Sea, John Colbert and wife Luann, of Norwood, and Joseph Colbert and wife Jean, of Carlisle; his nieces and nephews Stephanie, Michael, James, Andrew, Michaela, Matthew, Tate, Kelsey, Keith, Kimberly, Jennifer; and many extended family members and friends.

Donations in his memory can be made to: the Vermont Land Trust, 8 Bailey Ave., Montpelier, VT 05602; the Environmental Defense Fund, 257 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10010; or to a charity of your choice. Family and friends will gather to honor and remember Michael on Sunday, June 30, 2019, in Dublin, NH.


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