Colin Foote; brought wit to PR clients and friends

By Emma Stickgold
Globe Correspondent / May 21, 2010

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In amateur films directed by his friends, Colin Bransford Foote delivered lines with a heightened sense of comedic timing. He also took a try at action films, once playing a gangster.

When cameras were not rolling, his off-beat humor made him a mood lightener among friends and colleagues, and he could play whatever role was asked of him.

“No matter what you were doing, when Colin was there, it was way more fun,’’ said his longtime friend, Ryan Harnedy of Somerville. “He was always excited about everything.’’

At the Providence office of the Regan Communications Group, Mr. Foote worked with a number of corporate clients who looked to his expertise in public relations to get their message out.

“I think what helped him was that his personality was such that he could adapt to any situation,’’ said Lisa Doucet-Albert, senior vice president at Regan Communications. “They knew that when they called, they were going to get him, no matter when it was, and that he was going to help them.’’

Mr. Foote was riding his motorcycle in Charlestown, R.I., Sunday night when a car driven by Laura Reale of Westerly, R.I., slammed into him, after running a red light. Mr. Foote was 27. Reale, who police say has a number of driving infractions on her record, has been charged in the accident. She was released yesterday on bail.

Public relations seemed a natural fit for Mr. Foote, a native of Manchester, Conn., who grew up in Charlestown.

“The thing about Colin that made him a good PR guy was that he could tell what part of the story wasn’t working,’’ Harnedy said. “He could explain something well and knew what people wanted to hear, and he didn’t fluff it up a lot. He was real straightforward.’’

For the past three years, he worked in the firm’s Providence offices as an account manager, always keeping five ties and a nice coat on hand to make sure he was dressed for any occasion.

When he answered the phone, he offered an ebullient greeting that tipped clients off to his personality, and his memory for random facts made him a go-to person for colleagues, friends, and family who could not find the answer in a Google search.

“He was just such a nice guy, funny, quiet, and shy, just so smart,’’ Doucet-Albert said.

If a friend was down, he would say, “Put a CD on, and I’ll be over in 10 minutes,’’ friends said.

“He probably has the most infectious laugh on the planet, that could break the tension of any situation, including his own funeral,’’ said longtime friend Matt Morgan of Los Angeles.

In one of his signature lines aimed at eliciting smiles, he reverted to the third person: “Well, here comes Colin.’’

But he also had “a quiet sincerity,’’ Morgan said. “He was a unique Everyman. He could float among groups, and he was the first to make friends.’’

He also was the one people went to with questions on recently released films. “We would go with great fear to a movie he did not approve,’’ said his father, Richard “Robin,’’ of Charlestown. “He was an avid critic and got very emotional about it.’’

History, particularly that involving World War II, was one of the areas in which his encyclopedic knowledge stood out, family and friends said.

He treasured a war diary his maternal grandfather had kept, chronicling his wartime experiences. Both of his grandfathers had aviation in their World War II past, which triggered his love of aircraft. Father and son would often go to air shows.

They also worked hard to restore classic cars, spending a year working on a 1970 Datsun 240Z. When parts were harder to find, Mr. Foote spent much of his free time scouring eBay for good deals on specialized parts.

“He was just the consummate perfectionist,’’ his father said of his son’s refurbishing efforts.

At a young age, he often carried a drawing tablet and drew sketches, later turning to watercolors, his father said.

Mr. Foote graduated in 2001 from The Prout School in Wakefield, R.I., where he played on the varsity volleyball team, and served on the Student Council.

“He was an excellent student,’’ assistant principal Louise Pearson said, adding that in his four years, he was “a very visible part of the community.’’

He graduated from Connecticut College in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in history and American studies.

Harnedy said that he often talked of working in public relations for a nonprofit organization, but was thrilled to land a job three years ago with Regan Communications Group of Boston.

His eclectic interests and general cheerfulness made clients enjoy working with him, colleagues said.

“Colin had a passion for life,’’ his father said. “He was passionate about life and lived every day to the fullest.’’

In addition to his father, Mr. Foote leave his mother, Maryann (Bransford) and his brother Christopher, all of Charlestown; his grandmother, Marilyn Bransford of Palm Coast, Fla.; and his longtime girlfriend, Mallory Kowal of North Kingston.

A Mass will be said at 11 a.m. today in St. Vincent de Paul Church in Bradford, R.I.