Lars I Kulleseid
The Kulleseid family mourns and celebrates the remarkable life of Lars Ivar Kulleseid, who died on February 17, 2022 at his home in Garrison, New York, aged 86 years. He was a husband, father, patent attorney and fanatical athlete, outdoorsman and fox trotter.
Lars was born June 5, 1935, in Lakewood, Ohio, to Brynhild and Olav Kulleseid, Norwegian nationals living and working in the US at the time. Shortly after his birth the family (including older brother Hans) returned to Norway. Following the German invasion in 1940, Lars’s father returned to the US, he thought temporarily, to be able to work and send money to his family. The war persisted, however, and upon America’s entry into the war Lars and his brother came to the attention of German authorities because they were American citizens by birth. Heroically, Lars’s mother secured forged travel papers, and she and the boys were able to cross the border to Sweden by train on a winter night in December 1942. They spent the balance of the war in Sodertalje, near Stockholm - memories of which were happy and bright.
In 1946 the three came to America and were reunited with Lars’s father. They settled in Sea Cliff, Long Island, where Lars rapidly acclimated to life in the US. Soccer and his keen intelligence drew the attention of Yale, where he matriculated in 1953. He studied electrical engineering and graduated in 1957 with highest honors.
After graduation, Lars traveled by steamship to Norway where he would spend a year on a Fulbright scholarship. As the ship sailed past the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor he met Marit Gundersen, a Wellesley College student headed to the Oslo Summer School. They quickly fell in love. The two were married in La Crosse, Wisconsin, on August 27, 1960, after his second year at Harvard Law School. He graduated in 1961.
He accepted a position at the NYC patent law firm of Fish & Neave as a litigator. He took a leave of absence to work for famed US Attorney Robert Morgenthau, returning to the firm in the late 60s where he became partner in the early 1970s. One of his seminal cases was representing Polaroid successfully against Kodak when the latter tried to get into the instant camera business. At the time it was the largest patent infringement case in history. He remained at Fish & Neave through its merger with Ropes & Gray in the 00s.
Having grown up with instability and dislocation, Lars prioritized putting down roots. He loved land and open space, so he and Marit moved to Garrison in 1964, despite the daily hour-plus commute to his work in New York City. He and Marit raised three children there, with a strong diet of sports, activities and family. His love for land continued, and he was instrumental in building the Hudson Highlands Land Trust into a dynamic force for conservation in the Hudson Highlands.
The fire of life burned bright in Lars. On any given winter day, conditions permitting, you would find him playing hockey with his hockey crowd on whatever pond in the area had the best ice. Thin ice was always something to be tested, not avoided. During summers spent at the family cabin on Canada Lake in the Adirondacks, he would head off into the woods with his faithful golden retriever companion, Loki, to bushwack for hours around the North Branch of the West Branch of the Sacandaga River. He was passionately interested in people and the world, and traveled to Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, South America, Europe and the Caribbean. He was an insatiable consumer of news and devoured The Economist weekly.
Lars maintained and instilled in his children a love for Norway and all things Norwegian, returning to visit relatives there many times over decades. He always honored guests at the Kulleseid dinner table by leading a raucous rendition of a traditional Norwegian toast, “Og dette skal være.”
The final seven years of life saw him afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease and reduced heart function. Those years were spent mostly in the company of Marit and other family. He passed away peacefully surrounded by his wife and three children.
Lars is survived by Marit, his wife of 62 years, and their children Erik, Sara and Nils, along with three children-in-law and seven grandchildren. He is predeceased by his beloved older brother and protector, Hans Olav Kulleseid.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Lars's memory to the Hudson Highlands Land Trust (www.hhlt.org).
Funeral Arrangements are under the direction of Clinton Funeral Home- Cold Spring