With Integrity and Dignity: The Life of James W. Colbert, Jr., M.D.

Family & Education

Colbert Twins
James (Left) and his twin sister, Margaret, 6 months old, 1921.
Provided by the Colbert Family
Colbert Family 1968
Colbert Family, 1968
Provided by the Colbert Family

James William Colbert, Jr., M.D. was born in New York City on December 15, 1920. Raised in Larchmont, NY, Colbert grew up in a devout Roman Catholic household and attended parochial schools.  A bookish child from an early age, Colbert spent his formative years at St. Augustine’s School in Larchmont for junior high school and Iona Preparatory in New Rochelle, NY for high school.  Colbert studied philosophy at the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts and graduated in 1942 with an A.B. degree.  Despite a deep interest in philosophy, Colbert turned to a career in medicine because “it just seemed to be the thing to do at the time.” [Margaret Colbert Keegan] 

In 1942, Colbert was accepted into the medical program at New York’s Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons where he concentrated on immunology and infectious diseases.  Colbert earned his M.D. degree in 1945 and completed an internship at Bellevue Hospital in New York City before joining the U.S. Army Medical Corps in 1946.  Captain Colbert spent a year in Europe with the Medical Corps before completing his residency at Yale University School of Medicine.

Family and faith were essential to Dr. Colbert and both played significant roles in his life decisions.  On August 26, 1944, at the age of 24, Dr. Colbert married his childhood sweetheart, Lorna Tuck.  They immediately started a family and ultimately raised 11 children.