Arne Kjell Gjesteby – 1924-2013

Arne Gestebii

Businessman Arne Kjell Gjesteby died peacefully at his home on August 31. A celebration of his life will be held sometime this fall at a date to be announced. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Cohasset Rotary Charitable Foundation, Box 36, Cohasset, MA  02025.

Arne is survived by his wife Martha, four children: Erik of California, and Rolf, Ingrid Janes and Nils, all three of whom reside in Massachusetts, two daughters-in-law, one son-in-law and eight grandchildren: Erika and Lars, Anna, Olivia and Henry, Adam, Scott and Sarah. Also, two sisters: Anne-Lisbeth Gjesteby and Kari Gjesteby, both live in Oslo. His brother, Odd Sverre, preceded him in death many years ago.

During World War II Arne and his family escaped from Norway (then under German occupation). Arne joined the Norwegian forces in exile in Canada, and was selected for pilot training.  He had completed his training and was scheduled for a mission when the war ended. His wife Martha said that was a lucky thing, because “no one ever came back from those missions.”  

Arne and his Norwegian family returned to Oslo after the war. Arne received his law degree from Oslo University in 1950 and then immigrated to America. In 1956 he received his MBA from Northeastern University. And sometime while getting this degree he met Martha.

Martha and Arne married and moved in Cohasset in 1961 where they started their family and Arne founded the Klausen-Gestby (the name Gjesteby was shortened to make it easier) Co., a ship supply company located in Boston and still being run by their son, Nils.

Arne and his wife Martha, a Cohasset selectman, have been very active in the Cohasset Community. Arne served as Treasurer of the Cohasset Rotary for over 28 years. He also served on the Cohasset Advisory for two terms, and served as its chairman. Many older citizens remember the interesting times at town meeting when Arne would excitedly break into Norwegian during the discussion of a particularly “hot” article.

Arne was also a member of the Lightkeepers Founders, a group of citizens who banded together to preserve and renovate  the Lightkeepers Cottage on Government Island in Cohasset.

Arne and Martha traveled the world, were excellent downhill and cross-country skiers; every summer would swim the length of Sandy Beach twice, embarrassing just about everybody else. For years and years the Gjesteby’s sailboat, Solace, was a familiar boat in Cohasset Harbor. Arne was an excellent bridge player — holding the title of Silver Life Master.

The Gjesteby’s garden was and still is notorious. One summer the garden was particularly pregnant with zucchini and friends and neighbors had taken pounds and pounds of it off the Gjesteby’s garden; but they began locking their doors when they saw Martha coming up the driveway with large baskets of even more zucchini.  It was recommended to Martha that she set Arne up with a little farm stand on 3-A. (These were in the years before the farmer’s market.)

In 1994 Arne was pleased to be asked to serve as a Norwegian translator for the 23rd Olympiad held in Cambridge at Harvard Stadium.

A short history of Arne’s life, written by Arne in 1998

I was born on May 10. 1924 in Oslo, Norway. In my first 6 years my family consisted of my father, Omar Anton Gjesteby, born in 1899, my mother Solvei Marie B. Bergren born in 1900 and my brother Odd Sevrre B. born in 1920.

We lived in a small apartment, one or two rooms, which is still there at Norbygaten 13, Oslo. We at that time had no toilet in the apartment. Sometime during the early years my father bought a small summerhouse just outside Oslo I Aker Kommunc. I cannot remember much from that place aside from the fact that I got sick of WEEDING.

When I was about 7 we moved to a little better and bigger apartment in Moellergata 53. It was located next door to Moellergaten skole, which would be my school for the next 7 years. Still, no indoor toilet until just before we moved in 1938 or 1939.  The move came after my mother died in 1938.

After my mother’s death we rented an apartment a little better and bigger and my father, my brother and I moved into Krumgaten 4. My father at that time hired a housekeeper for us.

During these years my father had joined a union and had gradually become a ”big” man in the union. He eventually became vice chairman in the union for store clerks and office clerks. He also had become very active in the Labour Party and for year was a member of the City Council in Oslo. He also at one short term, was a substitute member of the Norwvegian Parliament. My brother during these years had been active in the Labour youth organization and eventually ended up as chairman of the Oslo District Labour Youth organization.

My mother had been a member of the Oslo School Committee and she had recommended me to continue school after I had finished my obligatory folk school. Most schools of higher learning in Oslo were run by the City of Oslo.

However, there was one old school (and many would say it was the best school in the country) — it was Oslo Katedralskole. It was a very difficult school to gain admittance to but they made a point of admitting some bright kids in the neighborhood. This school was run by the State. It was an old church school and many at that time thought it still was. But that was not correct. I joined this school in 1938 with plans of graduating in 1944 with an atrium degree (which is needed if you plan to attend The University of Oslo or other institutions of higher learning).

In about 1930 the Labour Party started a youth organization to compete with the Boy Scout and Girl Scout organizations. I was active in this group until the Germans or their henchmen – the Norwegian Nazi Party, outlawed it.  (The Germans invaded and occupied Norway starting April 9, 1940).

My mother came from a small farm, where they raised pigs. I spent most summer vacations in the 30s and early 40s on the farm and I loved it. I also learned to play poker. The ‘bigs’ played all night. They started with small bets but eventually they became substantial.


© Copyright 2013 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed