Jeff Colby, 35: Successful online graphics entrepreneur

Jeff Colby left the Art Institute of Atlanta with an associate’s degree and some finely honed video-editing and computer skills at a propitious time. It was 1998, and businesses of all sorts were rushing to establish Web pages.

Colby made the most of his opportunity.

His online graphics firm was basically a one-person show operated from his home, with a few independent contractors called in to assist when necessary. Yet he was able to service scores of clients successfully over the ensuing 15 years.

On Thursday, Jeffrey Michael Colby, 35, died at his Kennesaw home of undetermined complications after exhibiting flu symptoms earlier in the week. His memorial service is 10 a.m. Monday at H.M. Patterson & Son’s Canton Hill Chapel. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in his memory be made to Must Ministries, P.O. Box 1717, Marietta, GA 30061.

Dennis Salter of Atlanta, president of Salter Associates, a manufacturing machinery firm, said he met Colby seven years ago. “At that time, Jeff suggested I put my business on the Web,” Salter said. “I would say that the Web page generates 90 percent of my business. He helped me make my business more successful.”

Salter said Colby taught him a lot about using Photoshop and Dreamweaver. “He enhanced my computer skills, but they’re still no match for his,” he said.

Salter said Colby never offered a cookie-cutter approach to a customer. “In my case he listened and quickly understood the general direction of the graphics and wording I wanted, and he formulated a very customized final product.”

Whenever Salter ran into a problem, such as a computer virus or an occasional glitch, Colby would come at a moment’s notice and stay until he made the fix, Salter said, adding, “Ours was more than a business relationship. Jeff was a true friend.”

Robbie Rupard of Atlanta, chief operating officer of Sensiotec Inc., which makes pads that rest beneath hospital patients in bed and monitor their vital signs, said Colby did two projects for him, a full Web design and a revamp several years later.

“Jeff was the biggest pleaser I ever saw,” Rupard said. “He went to great lengths to make his clients happy. Whatever pressures we might put on him, whether it was an impending product launch or a trade show, he would stick with the job until we were satisfied. There was no quit in him.”

Another client was Brian DeBois of Cumming, head of Operation 21, an educational training firm that promotes awareness of the consequences of alcohol and drug consumption.

“Jeff was great to work with,” DeBois said. “He was so responsive; you could reach him 24/7. He asked the right questions. He could take your outline of what you wanted and run with it. And he was extremely creative, a big-time player in Web design.”

Sharon Colby said her husband in his leisure time loved to play Geocaching, the global positioning game, and watch movies. “There were some, like ‘Shawshank Redemption,’ that he could watch again and again,” she said. “He paid special attention to the direction and editing of films and especially liked the work of David Fincher (‘Fight Club’) and Christopher Nolan (‘Inception’ and ‘Memento’).”

Colby’s mother, Lin Colby, died nine years ago. Survivors besides his wife include his father and stepmother, Bob and Cheri Colby of Marietta, and two sisters, Kristin Colby of Charlottesville, Va., and Jessica Stidham of Marietta.

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