Gustafson, Jeffrey Peder (5/10/1947 - 3/18/2013) Following a nine-year battle against pancreatic cancer, Jeff Gustafson ascended into Heaven on March 18 to be reunited with his dear wife, Ethel (7/14/1947 - 11/21/2012). Jeff and Ethel were lifelong companions, sweethearts since attending Edina High School and the University of Minnesota, and were rarely apart from one another ever since. Jeff is also preceded in death by his mother, Doris. He is survived by his father, Harry; his children, Sven (Anna), Peder (Sage), Hans (Audrey), Mara (D.J.), Lindsay, and grandchildren, Spenser, Margaret, Harriet and Lukas ... and Maggie (his faithful pug). Jeff was a caring son-in-law to Margaret Shideman, a loving and witty brother to Greg and Jeannie Gustafson, Heidi and Brian Wiessner, Kevin and Mary Gustafson and Dori and Jim Herman. Also a lifelong friend and brother-in- law to Fred & Kathy Shideman, Jeff & Pat Shideman, and Liz & Randy Liebo. "Papa Jeff" never missed an opportunity to tease and pester (his version of love) his grandkids, nieces, nephews, and his sense of humor and endearing manner will be forever missed at the frequent Gustafson /Shideman family gatherings. Jeff broke all the rules (as usual) during his nine-year fight against pancreatic cancer. A special thank you to Dr. Seng, Dr. Sielaff, Dr. Rasmusson, and Marie Kramer RN, whose relentless commitment to Jeff's health blessed the Gustafson family with many extra years together, including four weddings and four grandkids, years Jeff claimed were among the best of his life. Thank you to Bev Hood RN, who compassionately and discerningly helped Jeff over the past several months as he prepared for his next big adventure. Jeff's generosity is legendary. "Need a car? You can have mine. Want to borrow something? Use a condo? It's yours. 'NO' is not an option." If you needed help or anything else, Jeff made it, or himself, available without hesitation. Jeff redefined the term "selfless" and taught his family how to care for others, and always gave freely without condition. Jeff ignored social class or status and consistently made new, and maintained old, friendships across every imaginable spectrum. Those who know Jeff appreciate his "special" sense of humor and email forwarding proficiency, but also know his ability to befriend and bring people together, evidenced by his role among the Spruce Placed "Crows." Immensely intelligent, Jeff could accomplish anything (and nearly did); however, Jeff's true calling was as a homebuilder. He built hundreds of single-family homes (and lived in many, some of them thrice!). Most were in Minnesota, but some were in Wisconsin, Madeline Island, Arizona, a hospital in California, and some even imported from Sweden. He developed apartments and multi-family housing, he was a land developer, restaurateur (Hot Fish Shop, Plums), trout farmer, amateur landscaper (with a focus on planting and watering pine trees and multiplying Orono's hosta population), owner of several companies (among them real estate, excavation, electrical, glass, and roofing), manufacturer, and insurance broker. Jeff was a man of many talents who loved to ski and run. In all he did, he was passionate and creative with a vision all his own. Despite all of his successes and efforts, Jeff was quick to point out that his greatest accomplishment in life was marrying his beautiful wife, Ethel. A celebration of Jeff's life will be held at Colonial Church of Edina, 6200 Colonial Way, Edina on March 27th at 3:00 p.m. A dinner reception will immediately follow. Jeff's wish is that in lieu of flowers, memorial donations be made to Virginia Piper Cancer Institute of Abbott Northwestern Hospital, 800 E 28th St. Mail Rt. 16509, Minneapolis, MN 55407.
This obituary was originally published in the Star Tribune.