Jill Felix Colton, 69, of Longboat Key, died Sept. 19.
Born Feb. 18, 1944, in Philadelphia, she graduated summa cum laude from the University of Wisconsin and earned a master’s degree in social work at Bryn Mawr College. She accepted a position at the now-closed Philadelphia General Hospital as a social worker.
Mrs. Colton married Miles Felix, a pediatric dentist, had two sons, and volunteered with charitable organizations, although it became clear that she needed to do more.
She became a residential real-estate agent focused on Chester County, Pa.
Mrs. Colton told her clients that a home purchase deserved weekday attention and never showed homes on weekends, or took clients to homes she hadn’t already inspected or sat at open houses. Her success led to an unsolicited commercial real-estate sales opportunity with CB Richard Ellis.
Knowing nothing about commercial real estate, she cold-called Philadelphia developer Bill Rouse, who agreed to meet with her for breakfast and wound up hiring her on the spot for a senior marketing position.
Mrs. Colton custom-developed the Great Valley Corporate Center with tenants and convinced Rouse to expand the business into Europe.
In 1993, she resigned from CB Richard Ellis, which had become Liberty Property Trust, to care for her husband.
She went on to become CEO and the first nonacademic leader of the Philadelphia-based University City Science Center in 1997.
After the death of her first husband, she was reintroduced to her former high-school classmate, Neal Colton, whose wife had recently died. They went on to marry in 2004.
Mrs. Colton is survived by her husband, Neal; sons, Eric and Greg Felix; stepsons Andrew and Bill Colton; brother, Sheldon Davis; and eight grandchildren.
A memorial service was held Sept. 20, in Philadelphia.
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