February 2, 2024

Dear Friends,

With a heavy heart, I write to share the news that Honorary Trustee Jay Hellstrom Jr. ’64 died over the weekend. Jay served Hobart and William Smith for more than 20 years on the Board of Trustees and the Colleges benefited tremendously from his keen mind, unyielding commitment to the liberal arts, drive for greater access and his experienced business acumen. Personally, I prized Jay’s counsel and always appreciated his unfailing optimism as he candidly and comprehensively considered our challenges. With his beloved wife Linda, they made numerous trips to campus, hosted many events, attended countless HWS gatherings and cheered and supported our students, alumni (particularly his classmates) and campus. Jay will be dearly missed.

As a student, Jay threw himself into the academic, social and athletic opportunities on campus and his leadership skills were evident at a young age. He served as class president and on the Board of Control. Inducted into the Druid and Chimera honor societies, he was also a member of Theta Delta Chi and played soccer and lacrosse. After earning his B.A. in chemistry and history, he began a long career in finance. He earned his M.B.A. from Columbia University in 1970 and worked with several firms including Blyth Eastman Dillon & Co., Inc. and Credit Suisse First Boston, where he retired as vice president and managing director in 1989.

As an alumnus, Jay remained deeply devoted and connected to Hobart and William Smith. Throughout his service on the Board, he had the rare capacity to delve comprehensively into institutional issues, carefully studying topics while keeping the big picture always in mind. He chaired the technology committee and provided invaluable guidance as a member of the executive, enrollment management, compensation and human resources committees. Serving from 1995 to 2016, Jay was named an Honorary Trustee at the end of his final term.

Members of the Seneca Society, Jay and Linda created the Hellstrom Family Scholarship and the John P. and Linda L. Hellstrom Endowed Scholarship Fund. Their generosity also supported a named space in the Gearan Center for the Performing Arts as well as the Hellstrom Boathouse on the Cayuga-Seneca Canal, where the HWS rowing teams practice and compete.

Jay’s deep commitment to broadening access for underserved populations guided his philanthropic and volunteer leadership. He was a member of the board of SEEDS, an academic enrichment program for high-achieving public high school students in low socioeconomic communities throughout New Jersey. His longtime support and advocacy was instrumental in the success of the program. It was Jay’s efforts that brought SEEDS and HWS together for a collegiate summer program, ensuring that SEEDS students had successful experiences on campus year after year and providing a pathway to HWS.

In addition to serving his local community — including membership on the boards of Cushing Academy, Morris Land Conservancy and A Call to Service, among other organizations — Jay was known as an avid skier and even more so, an exceptional sailor. Among many adventures he and Linda shared on sea, they crossed the Atlantic from the Canary Islands to Antigua in a 54-foot sloop.

Jay’s lifetime of support for Hobart and William Smith carries forward through the scholarships he established, the spaces on campus he helped create, and the friends and colleagues who have benefited from his wisdom and grace. Our thoughts are with Linda, their children, Emily and Erika, and their grandchildren.

Details about arrangements will be shared as soon as they are known.


Mark D. GearanPresident