In memoriam: Brian Colson

In memoriam: Brian Colson

Brian Colson, a beloved member of the Parking & Transportation Services staff, passed away shortly after midnight on Wednesday morning. According to WXII News, police responded to a call that there was a car on fire near Second and Broad Streets, and found Colson, 64, deceased in the car when they arrived. Police said that Colson hit a utility pole and then a parked car while making a left turn on his way out of work, the car catching fire upon impact. The cause of death is still being investigated. 

“I just talked to the last driver that spoke with him last night and they talked just before Brian left around 12, 12:15 [a.m.] last night,” Transportation Services Manager Jason Campbell said. “He seemed to be in good spirits.”

Colson joined Wake Forest’s parking and transportation staff in 2017 and worked as an on-call shuttle driver from 7:00 p.m to 1:00 a.m. 

“Affectionately, that became known as Brian’s taxi cab,” Campbell said. 

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Campbell said that Colson had a group of “regulars” and would be waiting outside their normal pick up spots, even before they would call him, to drive them.

 “I’ve met a lot of students as a result of Brian, you know, doing what he did and people calling in to say ‘I really appreciate this guy. He waited an extra five minutes for me to come out of the library when he didn’t have to’, or ‘he took me down this dark street to my house at 11:30 p.m. when he could have just let me off at the corner and made me walk,’ just things like that.” 

Campbell acknowledged that Colson’s job was a tough one, but that he continuously maintained a positive attitude. 

“You don’t know what kind of mood the passenger is going to be in when you pick them up at 10:30 at night. They could have had a really long day, they could be frustrated with something going on in their residence hall, they could have internal things going on,” he said. “But the thing that I would say about Brian Colson is that as soon as you got in the van, you got a smile from Brian, a ‘how are you’ and ‘where can I take you?’” 

Campbell emphasized that Colson was highly respected and affectionately viewed among his fellow drivers as well as the whole transportation department.

“Brian was a great example of how everyone can have a positive impact on those we served everyday. He found joy in his interaction with staff and students,” Vice President of Hospitality and Auxiliary Services John Wise said. “This is truly a sad loss for our campus family.” 

Colson was a husband, father, grandfather and had recently become a great-grandfather. But for Campbell, he was part of a 25-member family in the transportation department as well. 

“On behalf of our department, we have really lost a giant in the world of transportation.” 

Not only was Colson’s death a loss for the transportation department, but the rest of the university community will feel his absence as well. 

“He was a welcoming, compassionate driver who always asked me how my day was going or how school was going,” senior Caitlyn Margol said. “There was one time where it was pouring rain and I was in Scales finishing an art project really late at night. Instead of picking me up where the normal spot is that’s really far away, he came right up to the sidewalk so I didn’t have to walk in the rain.”

A simple ride home in Colson’s shuttle could brighten someone’s day, especially recently given that the pandemic has severely limited social interactions on campus. It was a time when one could engage in intimate discussion. 

“Right now, everything in the world just seems to be dehumanized and there’s no interaction. But when you’re in a van or in a small bus and you only have one or two people in there, sometimes you strike up conversations you know. Where are you from? Are you going home this weekend? You know, things like that,” Campbell said. “I’m really thankful that since 2017 we had Brian in this division because he’s done a fantastic job.” 

Campus will be a little less lively tonight without Colson riding around, picking up students ready to head home after a late night studying. 

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