ONEONTA – Gunleif Jacobsen, of Oneonta and New York City, active in the county’s civic life since retiring from Wall Street in 1996, passed away Monday, May 21, 2018, at home in Oneonta at age 83.
Gunleif was born in Brooklyn, the eldest son of Elias and Olena Jacobsen, who had recently emigrated from Karmoy, Norway.
He graduated from Fort Hamilton High School in Brooklyn, and Baruch College, The City University of New York. He retired from a successful career on Wall Street in 1996. Very proud of his Norwegian heritage, he then spent two semesters at the University of Bergen and two summers at Oslo University’s International Summer School to deepen his knowledge of the country’s language, culture and society.
A member of All Souls Unitarian Church in New York and the Sons of Norway, he was an enthusiastic supporter of many cultural and environmental organizations, including Carnegie Hall, MusicaViva, Bassett Hospital, Otsego Land Trust, The Glimmerglass Festival, The Fenimore Art Museum and Doctors Without Borders.
In his early years, he was an accomplished figure skater. Later he turned to tennis and, as a member of the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, won singles and doubles tournaments there in the early ’80s. Perhaps owing to his Norwegian DNA, he excelled on the ski slopes and for many years impressed onlookers with his classic form on the challenging trails of the Rockies and Wasatch Range.
He loved travel and made several road trips across the U.S. and enjoyed visits to Europe, particularly Germany and Norway, where he spent time with friends and family.
Gunleif is survived by his brothers, Tom and wife Gail of Manahawkin, N.J., and Roy and wife Mary Ellen of Charlestown, R.I.; niece and nephews Dianne, Erik, Toby, Jeffrey and Kirk; and by his partner of 41 years, Thomas Simpson.
He was a kind and gracious man making friends wherever he went, and will be remembered by those fortunate enough to have met him as a modest and caring person, with a ready smile, and an understanding and compassionate ear.
There will be a gathering later this summer to celebrate his life.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the Fenimore Art Museum, PO Box 800, Cooperstown, NY 13326, Otsego Land Trust, PO Box 173, Cooperstown, NY 13326, or the Guild of Glimmerglass Festival, PO Box 191, Cooperstown, NY 13326.