Herbert L. Sjursen, who celebrated his 101st birthday June 12, died peacefully in his sleep early September 29, 2018. Herb, as his many friends and acquaintances called him, was born in Cranford, New Jersey, the son of Norwegian immigrants Halfdan and Nora Sjursen. His three younger brothers, Clifford, Ralph, and Paul predeceased him. Herb married his high school sweetheart Rosemary Jansen who died November 11, 2005.
After graduating from Cranford High School in 1936 Herb worked for Air Reduction Company and studied business at Pace University. He worked his way up in the company from stock clerk to at his retirement deputy director of human resources of the corporation’s welding equipment manufacturing division’s plant in Union, N.J. Herb and Rosemary, joining Karen Wells’ family, retired to Santa Fe in 1980.
Herb volunteered generously in community organizations serving as a cub master and scoutmaster and other leadership positions in the Boy Scouts. He fell in love with New Mexico during the times he led scouts to Philmont Ranch. For his service and leadership, he was honored by the Boy Scouts with the Order of the Arrow, the Wood Badge and the Silver Beaver awards. The Cranford, New Jersey chapter of B’nai Brith honored him with its citizenship award. He was one of the founders of Junior Achievement, an organization providing high school students with industry internships. Herb also was a volunteer for the Wheelwright Museum for 40 years.
Throughout his life he loved singing. He sang in church choirs in New Jersey and Santa Fe and in Santa Fe joined the Harmonizers Barbershop ensemble. He taught himself to play the accordion and harmonica, which he played during sing-a-longs with his family and friends. For the last 35 years he led weekly singing with his adult Sunday school at St. John’s United Methodist Church.
Herb was a man of projects. As a teenager he learned to repair watches – which became a lifelong ambitious project of clock building and the repairing antique clocks. From raising tropical fish as a young man, he created an elaborate fish pond outside the house he designed and helped build his home in Sunset Hills. He could repair almost anything and enjoyed electronics and amateur radio, and organic gardening.
Throughout his life Herb was an active member of the Methodist Church. He served in numerous leadership positions in his congregations both in Cranford and Santa Fe and was a member of the choir in both places.
He is survived by his two children, Harold Sjursen of Chicago, and Karen Wells of Santa Fe; four grandchildren, Gunnar Sjursen and Isak Sjursen of Brooklyn, NY; Siv Elin Sjursen-Hersh of Chicago, and Gregor Wells of Albuquerque. Gregor’s brother, Aaron Wells, passed away in 2001. His survived by his great grandchildren Ursula Hersh of Chicago, Thea and Gus Sjursen of Brooklyn, Mitchell and Nico Wells of Albuquerque, and Dashiell Wells Jarvis, of Wilmington, North Carolina. Throughout their marriage Herb and Rosemary were surrogate parents and grandparents to many others always regarded as members of their extended family.
A service in his memory will be held at St. John’s United Methodist Church in Santa Fe on October 28 at 4:00 pm. His ashes will be interred next to those of his wife Rosemary in the garden of the United Methodist Church in Cranford, N.J.
In lieu of flowers memorials can be sent to St. John’s United Methodist Church.
The family of Herbert L. Sjursen has entrusted the care of their beloved one to Avista Cremation & Burial.
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