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Rolf Ericson, 81, Oneonta;

Owned Seeley’s Ceramics

Rolf Ericson

ONEONTA – Rolf Ericson, who expanded Seeley’s Ceramics Service Inc. into a doll-making concern with international reach, died peacefully on Friday, Nov. 2, 2018.

He and his family moved to Oneonta in the fall of 1977.

Rolf had spent 14 years working for a Swedish-based international corporation, Atlas Copco, and at 40 was ready for change, and to start out on his own.  Faith brought him to Oneonta where Seeley’s Ceramics, a ceramic manufacturer, was waiting to find a buyer, as the owners were retiring.

Rolf and his wife, Ragnhild, had fallen in love with the Oneonta area during a visit a couple of years earlier – the climate with snow in the winter, the beauty of the land, the people, and the return to small town living. They found a wonderful house outside town, where they lived for 33 years.

Rolf was born in wartime Stockholm, Sweden, Dec. 25, 1936. Soon the family moved to Borås, Sweden, where he went to school up through Baccalaureate, graduating in 1955.

After graduation, Rolf worked with the Johnson Shipping Line, including on board one of the cargo ships on an adventurous Stockholm/Argentina round-trip.  He then entered the obligatory Swedish Military Service, Artillery, for 15 months, long enough to finish as sergeant.

He then worked for General Motors in Stockholm for two years.

In 1960, Rolf started post-graduate work in economics and business at the Swedish Stockholm School of Economics.  He graduated in 1963, receiving his MBA.

That same fall, Rolf married his love, Ragnhild Margareta Oscarsson, and the two of them left Sweden for Spain. During the following seven years, Rolf held the position as VP Finance (CFO) with Atlas Copco AB in Madrid. Thus started their long and happy marriage.

During the Spain years, Rolf and Ragnhild had two children, Peter and Karin, both born in Madrid.

The fall of 1970, Rolf was transferred to Atlas Copco’s US headquarters in New Jersey, as VP Finance and later VP Marketing.

As it took Rolf a year to receive the necessary Visa to work in the U.S., the young family focused on spending weekends crisscrossing Spain, visiting the treasures of that great country, knowing that they had to leave what they had come to love.

Around five years or so later, Rolf was selected to take over Atlas Copco’s South American operations, but he did not accept.  Rolf and his wife decided that they wanted to stay in the U.S. Rolf started to look for a small business. It took him three years of searching, before he left Atlas and purchased Seeley’s the summer of 1977.

This business manufactured porcelain slip, doll bodies, china paints, patterns for doll clothes, and all kinds of needed tools. Molds for slip casting of doll parts were created; a book on how to make porcelain dolls from scratch was offered – a new hobby in creation.

Supported by the former owners, Rolf soon learned all the ins and outs of his new venture.  Mildred Seeley started writing more books on porcelain dollmaking.  Rolf became a ceramic teacher, and a dollmaking organization was born, The Doll Artisan Guild. The first dollmaking magazine was published, The Doll Artisan.

The old building on Main Street was fixed up and made into a dollmaking schoolhouse. Instructors traveled to Seeleys’ new distributorships to teach the craft to budding dollmakers. The first doll show was held in Oneonta – all the above happened within the first 12 months. More yearly events were held, and grew to Doll Festivals and Conventions. Many were held here at SUNY Oneonta and at the the Concord, which at peak years welcomed up to a 1,000 dollmakers from all corners of the globe.

Rolf travelled the country searching out ceramic studios that could become doll-making distributors. He soon started in on the international market and expanded to sell his wares in practically all of Western Europe and Scandinavia, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, South America – and travelled to them all. This suited Rolf to a tee, as he was fluent in Swedish, English, Spanish and German and spoke French and Italian passably.

Seeley’s Ceramic Service, Inc. received the Governor’s Award for Achievement in Export in 1993.

Rolf was excited when a tennis club started in Oneonta. Tennis had been Rolf’s favorite sport since his teens, and he now had the opportunity to play year around at the new club. He continued this for many, many years and gladly supported the club.

Eventually the time came for Rolf and Ragnhild (who worked with Rolf for over 30 years) to sell the business and retire.

He is survived by his wife Ragnhild (Rangi), his son Peter Ericson and his wife Colleen; his daughter Karin and her husband Michael Goulian; three grandchildren, Emily, Finn and Axel; his brother Martin Ericson; brother Allan Ericson and his wife Mia; his sister-in-law Eva Oscarsson; his brother-in-law Stefan Oscarsson and his wife Lisbet; and several nieces and nephews.

Funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, at Lester R. Grummons Funeral Home, 14 Grand Street, Oneonta.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Alzheimer’s Assoc., Leatherstocking Branch, 140 Co Hwy 33, Suite 2, Cooperstown, NY 13326.

Online condolences may be made by visiting


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