Nathaniel Colby

Nathaniel Fred "Ted" Colby

Sunday, July 5th, 1936 - Friday, January 15th, 2021
Recommend this to your friends.
Share via:

Sign in to the Family Interactive Login

The Family Interactive feature enhances An Amazing Life. Authorized family members can securely access their loved one's memorial website settings at any time.

Share Book of Memories with a Friend

Please enter the name and email details so that we can send your friend a link to the online tribute. No names or addresses will be collected by using this service.

Email Sent

Your email has been sent.

To share your memory on the wall of Nathaniel Colby, sign in using one of the following options:

Sign in with Facebook


Sign in with your email address

Your condolence has been submitted for approval. There may be a delay before posting.

Provide comfort for the family by sending flowers or planting a tree in memory of Nathaniel Colby

No Thanks

Contact Funeral Home

Please enter your question or comment below:

Email Sent

Your email has been sent.

Nathaniel's Tribute Fund

  •  Full Name
  •  Initials
  •  Anonymous
By continuing, you agree with the terms and privacy policy.

Nathaniel's Tribute Fund

There may be a delay while processing. Please do not click the back button or refresh while a payment is processing.


Nathaniel F. (Ted) Colby

Soldier, Scholar, Politician and Author

July 5, 1936 – January 15, 2021 

          According to “The Howitzer,” his 1959 yearbook from West Point, Ted Colby was “known for his preference of…Admiral’s daughters…and sports cars" was said in jest.  That he ended up marrying his lifetime love, Mary Grenfell, daughter of VADM Elton W. Grenfell, USN, a World War II hero, was the greatest highpoint of his life and the eventual source of his many other blessings.  The sports car, he only briefly owned in Germany, but he kept on dreaming of once again owning and driving one.  For the past few years, however, it was Mary who drove a sports car, a "James Bond 007 Limited Edition" of the BMW Z3.  The “Howitzer” also said “Ted leaves West Point with an even stronger attachment to the military than when he entered.”  Nothing truer could be said.  His fondest memories were the times when he was with his Army comrades and the men he commanded.  Later, even his dreams were often of those times at West Point and those with his soldiers. His connection with West Point was always very strong, as he had always felt a fondness and everlasting camaraderie with the United States Military Academy, its Corps of Cadets and especially his classmates.  Throughout his military career and later on after retirement, he tried to live his life according to the West Point motto of Duty, Honor, Country.

            He dearly loved the Army, particularly the Airborne, the Armor and the Cavalry.  He was one of very few officers who changed branches from a combat support branch to a combat arms branch when he switched from Signal Corps to Armor.  His first tour with Armor was in Korea, where he quickly went from platoon leader to company commander.  There he served with well-qualified fellow junior officers like Gordon Sullivan who would someday become a full general and Chief of Staff of the Army.  His next tour was with the Airborne, and he was sent to join the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, KY.  Ted loved the Airborne in a special way. He didn’t particularly like to jump out of airplanes, but he loved to be with those who did.  Several years later, in 1967, he requested duty in Vietnam and after harassing the Pentagon, was finally sent back to Ft. Campbell to train the men of the 3rd Battalion, 187th Airborne Infantry of the 101st Airborne Division for combat and, as their Operations Officer, took them to Vietnam.  In the first part of his tour in Vietnam, he earned the coveted Combat Infantryman’s Badge.  Later, he was posted in the 2nd Squadron, Airborne, 17th US Cavalry, at first as temporary commander and later as Executive Officer …this unit was to become his home regiment. 

           His tour in Vietnam earned him the Silver Star for Gallantry in Action, the Bronze Star with V for heroism with an Oak Leaf Cluster, an Air Medal with V for heroism with three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Commendation Medal with V for heroism with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm.  He also earned five battle stars for the Vietnam Campaigns.  Later on, he would be awarded the Legion of Merit and other awards for meritorious service.

            Following a pleasant tour (kind of like being a civilian) at the University of Missouri- Rolla, MO, where he earned a Master’s Degree in Nuclear Engineering, he spent a short time in Washington with the Defense Nuclear Agency. He was later selected for the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and to command the 1st Battalion, 64th Armor in Germany.  This command of a tank battalion was a high point in his career. Following that tour of command, he served as Chief of War Plans for the Seventh U.S. Corps in Germany under his former Squadron Commander from Vietnam, and now Corps Commander, LTG Julius Becton.

            From Germany, Ted returned to the States and retired from Ft. Dix, NJ to a position with GPU Nuclear in Parsippany, NJ.  He brought his family to live in Dover, NJ in 1981.  Not to let grass grow under his feet and feeling the challenge to get involved in the community, he ran for Town Alderman of Dover and was twice elected to that Board.  The Dover Republican Municipal Committee also elected him as their Chairman for almost a decade.  He then served on the Dover Board of Zoning Adjustment and was appointed the town’s Coordinator of Emergency Management, and wrote the first State-approved Emergency Operations Plan for the Town of Dover.  As a member of the vestry of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Dover, he was elected as a lay delegate to the Diocene Council of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark.  It was also during this period of his life that he returned to the classroom once more; this time to earn another Master’s Degree, an MBA in Management from Fairleigh Dickinson University.  The Morris County Freeholders twice appointed Ted to serve on the Board of Trustees for the County College of Morris, and he was also appointed to serve on the Board of Directors of the Picatinny Innovation Center. 

           One year, the American Legion of Dover asked Ted to be the Grand Marshall for the Memorial Day Parade and he delivered the Memorial Day Address at Hurd Park across from his home on Baker Avenue.  This was a great honor for him and he was very appreciative to the town for considering him worthy of the privilege.  Almost every year on Memorial Day, he would show up in uniform at Hurd Park to commemorate the heroism of the brave soldiers from Dover who served and died. He has a brick engraved near the flagpole there.

            When he finally retired a second time, Ted had time to write and publish a newsletter to the nuclear and airlines communities for two years.  Later, he devoted all his time to writing fiction.  He wrote two novels about espionage, The Kilyaikin File and To Catch a Fox, published in 2000 and 2003 respectively.  Later on, in 2009, he published his third novel, The Armageddon Protocol. His last book was a historical novel which portrayed the life of Mary's Great-grandfather, Captain Stephen John Mulhall. 

            In late 2004, he and Mary moved to Portsmouth, Virginia where they built a new old Victorian house in Olde Towne Portsmouth and joined St. John's Church across the street.  He was appointed to the Economic Development Authority of Portsmouth in 2009 to continue his community involvement.

             Above all else, his greatest prides in life were his children and his grandchildren. He claimed five children including his foster daughter, BJ.  His grandchildren numbered thirteen, which in this case seemed to be a lucky number for him.  They gave him a great deal of pride and joy.  “Not an ugly one in the bunch,” he used to say.

            Ted Colby left us after dealing with advanced dementia and COVID-19. He will forever be remembered by his close friends, his West Point classmates, and his beloved family.  Mary, his wife, partner, companion, and truly the love of his life, predeceased him by about three years. He is survived by his daughter and his best friend, Susan Vicedomini, Naples, FL; foster daughter, the wonderful Elizabeth (BJ) Mines, and his sons – whom he loved and whom he was so proud, Nathaniel Richard, Griswold, CT; Lindsey, Waterville, ME; and Joseph, Greensboro, NC.  He is also survived by his much beloved thirteen grandchildren, Anita, Colleen, Daniel, Jeremy, Jessie, Martha, Mary, Nathaniel, Nicholas, Pete, Sarah, Stephen, Zachary and great grandchildren, Greyson, Jasper, Geno, Theodore and Colby; he truly loved them all.  He always wanted them to know that he would forever be there for them should they need him.


         The Lord never blessed Ted with a brother, he instead blessed him with half a thousand brothers who were his classmates at West Point; he never forgot that. He would have especially wanted to be remembered in terms of the words of the last verse of the West Point Alma Mater: “And when our work is done, our course on earth is run, may it be said ‘Well Done, Be thou at Peace’.”

Read Less

Sign Up for Notifications

Receive notifications about information and event scheduling for Nathaniel
No funeral details available.


We encourage you to share your most beloved memories of Nathaniel here, so that the family and other loved ones can always see it. You can upload cherished photographs, or share your favorite stories, and can even comment on those shared by others.

No video recorded.

Private Condolence
Plant a Tree in Memory of Nathaniel
0 trees have been planted in memory of Nathaniel Fred "Ted" Colby

Jim Ferguson

Posted at 01:07pm
Praying for you all Mary. I have such wonderful memories of your warm hospitality, eating homemade Pizza Hut pizza with you in Dover, NY so many years ago and skiing with the family. Having lost my dad, Rod, I can understand the feeling of loss. My thoughts and many prayers to you all. Jim Ferguson.

Ken Ginsberg

Posted at 11:17am
Ted and Mary were both great friends during my tenure as an attorney in Dover, Morris County, New Jersey. I remember well Ted running for Alderman and winning! What great joy and a blessing for those he represented. Not all initiatives went smoothly - or were well received by all. However, Ted was steadfast and determined, he had a kind heart and knew his worth. He had a great sense of humor and a positive spirit; he was loyal to his friends, I learned a lot from Ted. He visited me once in Naples a number of years ago - that's a fond memory. He was intelligent and kind; I will miss him. God Bless.

Photos & Videos

Photo Album

Upload up to 10 images at a time, max 8MB each
Share by: