John V. Colan


John V. Colan passed away on Monday, January 27, 2020 in Warwick at the age of 90.

Born in Providence, the son of the late William and Mary (Zilinskas) Colan, he lived in Warwick since 1972. He was a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, BFA 1955 in painting. Occasionally, his work was included in exhibitions at the Providence Art Club. Some of his favorite places to paint were Arnold Neck, Greenwich Cove, Goddard Park and the Barrington River. For over 30 years he was a member of a drawing group that met weekly to draw from life. During the 1970s and 1980s he taught painting to adults at the YMCA in Cranston. Being an artist, his lifelong interest was always painting and drawing.

For an income he found his first job as a designer at Metalart Buckle Company on Valley Street in Providence. He was responsible for designing all sorts of jewelry, accessories, gifts and packaging. Later, he was the art director at Cole National and Crownmark, where many of the products he designed were distributed and sold globally. He would joke that he was being paid to do very little, saying, “Stick a diamond in it [didn’t matter what], add gold, and they will love it.” He would show up to work late, went to lunch, shopped (that’s where he got his ideas), and worked after hours when everyone went home.

Known for his somewhat off-color sense of humor, no one was ever quite prepared for his truthful observations. He was always late, but once he arrived everyone would forget how long they waited. He liked to have fun. He was generous and thoughtful of others, teaching his sons to be accepting of all, no matter what their differences might be. As his mind and body succumbed to old age, he became more philosophical. One day when he was 88 years old, he said, as he looked upward raising his arms slowly, “It’s not the dying that hurts, it’s the parting.”

He is survived by two sons, John W. Colan of Chelsea, Mass. and Douglas A. Colan of Warwick. He was the youngest brother of the late Agatha Williams, Euphemia “Dot” Anderson and Anna Hulcup.

His funeral services will be private. Visit


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