By Michelle Graff
Roger Gesswein Jr., pictured here in a photo taken in 2018, died Friday at the age of 77.
New York—Roger Gesswein Jr., chairman of global jewelry tools and equipment supplier Paul H. Gesswein Co., died Friday after a battle with mantle cell lymphoma, a rare form of cancer.

He was 77.

Gesswein was the third generation of his family to head the company founded by his grandfather, German immigrant Paul H. Gesswein, in 1914 on Maiden Lane in Lower Manhattan.

He joined the family business in the 1960s after earning a degree in political science from the University of Connecticut, working alongside brother Dwight Gesswein and sister Janet Gesswein Mutti.

In a 2014 interview with Southern Jewelry News marking the company’s 100th anniversary, he recalled working in the family business even before that, going in on weekends and holidays to “play around the office” when he was 14 before taking on more serious tasks when he reached the legal working age of 16.

Gesswein was named president of the company in 1978 and, later, CEO and chairman, helping to innovate and grow the New York-based family business into a global operation.

As news of his passing spread online this week, jewelers recalled how Gesswein and his family’s company had helped them throughout their careers.

“May your father’s memory be a blessing,” one Facebook user wrote on the page of his son, Roger III. “Your company has been outfitting our jewelry store for decades. We bought our first bench and rectifier from him.”

Outside of the family business, Gesswein was active with the Jewelers Vigilance Committee and the Jewelers’ Security Alliance, and was a former president and chairman of the 24 Karat Club of New York City.

In a tribute published Monday, Centurion Editor Hedda Schupak recalled the parties Gesswein would host at his home on the Friday before the annual 24 Karat Club banquet held in New York each January.

“Even before I became a member of the 24 Karat Club, Roger always took time to greet me charmingly, and thoughtfully answer any questions I had about the industry,” she wrote. “He and his wife, Farideh, always welcomed me graciously to their home for their famous annual pre-24 Karat party.”

Gesswein was known for being generous and cultured. His interests outside of the jewelry industry included traveling, food and wine, cigars, art, and music.

He was preceded in death by his sister Janet, who passed away in 2004.

He is survived by his wife, Farideh; daughter Kristen (Stephen Fealy); twin sons, Roger III and Alex; brother Dwight; three grandchildren; and multiple nieces and nephews.

Memorial services will be held at a later date due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those who wish to make a charitable donation in Gesswein’s memory can make checks payable to: HUMC Foundation #1126 BMT Inpatient, with the memo: In honor of Roger Hudson Gesswein Jr.

The checks should be mailed to Hackensack Meridian, Hackensack University Medical Center Foundation, 160 Essex St., Suite 101, Lodi, NJ 07644.

“These are the people who nurtured and guided Roger through his long and difficult struggle, and cared for him with love and compassion throughout his final months, weeks and days,” his family said.

Editor’s note: This story was updated post-publication to include information about charitable donations in Roger Gesswein Jr.’s memory.

TAGS:   Obituaries
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