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Shelter Island Reporter obituary: Jerry Glassberg

Jerry Glassberg, a longtime resident of Shelter Island, died peacefully at his home on April 5 following a battle of several years with the effects of heart failure. He was 91 years old.

Jerry was born in Long Beach, N.Y. in 1929. In high school, he was a superb athlete, captain of the football team, member of the wrestling team and an all-around popular student. For several years he was a lifeguard at the Long Beach shore. It was there that he met his beloved wife, Tamara. They were married for many years until her death in 2001.

Jerry was a member of the armed forces in the early 1950s and was stationed on Governor’s Island in New York harbor. During his army years he was a star player on the baseball team.

Upon his discharge from the service, he embarked on a successful career as a salesman, eventually setting up his own company and selling dinnerware and other items from the Mount Clemens pottery in Michigan and importing goods from Brazil and Japan.

He traveled to Japan to facilitate his business with producers in that country. During this time he lived in Oceanside and in Island Park, N.Y., where he and his wife raised their two children, Leslie and Neil. He also became an expert sailor and competed in racing with his boat, a Flying Scot.

After a successful career in business, Jerry retired in his early 50s and moved to Shelter Island, spending winter months in Florida. He became an excellent tennis player and golfer and won many awards, both in Florida and on the Island, where he was a member of the Gardiner’s Bay Country Club.

Jerry reached the apex of his life in sculpting, an art he honed joyfully up until his death, creating sculptures ranging from portrait busts to imaginative and whimsical works and figures, which can be viewed in his studio and in the sculpture garden he had been working on for several years, and which will be the scene of a celebration of his life in the near future.

In addition, Jerry maintained a fern garden that he cultivated with love, and a collection of bonsai, some of which are 50 years old. He also authored several books, the most well-known being about Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt. He was a longstanding member of the Friends of Music and volunteered in the 4Rs 4 Fun writing program at the Shelter Island Library. 

For the past 19 years, Jerry shared his life with his loving companion Kathleen Goldhirsch. They reveled in mutual passions for music, writing, art, and the creative life in general.  They laughed a lot. And traveled to Thailand, Viet Nam, France, Italy in search of sculpture sites and art in all forms, and on the Rhine River, where Jerry researched a book he was writing about F. A. Seiberling, the founder of Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and the grandfather of Island resident Dorothy Seiberling.

Jerry is survived  by his beloved daughter Leslie Harris, of Stamford, Conn; son-in-law Gene Lenahan; son Neil Glassberg, of Bahrain; and four grandchildren, Scot, Ryan, Sarah, and Sam. They were the lights of his life.