2010 True Gentleman – Jake Crossley

Jonathan “Jake” Crossley ‘48 is the True Gentleman of New York Alpha Award winner. Jake grew up in Binghamton, New York, and began his Cornell career in June 1943 on the Cornell State Scholarship. After a few brief months, he entered the Army’s specialized training program, where he served for 14 months, culminating in a medical discharge that landed him back in upstate New York. He detoured to Hamilton College in January 1945 through the fall of 1946, when the student population during wartime was only 60 and the faculty numbered 35. Jake returned to Cornell in the fall of 1946 and earned his first degree in economics in June 1947, then stayed on to attend Cornell Law School until 1950.

After Cornell, Jake began a 45-year career in real estate appraisal. He started in a firm of 35 members and soon earned a civil service position as one of two principal real estate appraisers for the New York State Banking Department in Manhattan. By 1963, Jake opted to return to Binghamton to establish his own appraisal firm. He was appointed the deputy commissioner of assessments and finance, and later controller by the City of Binghamton. After a rigorous series of exams, demonstration appraisals and demonstrated work experience, Jake earned membership in the American Institute of Real Estate Appraisers with a designation of MAI (qualified to appraise all types of real estate). Due to the high demand for this skillset and a limited supply of MAIs in upstate New York, he found himself often working seven days a week.

His dedication led him to wait to marry until 1978, at age 52, Katharine Kerry of Seattle, who had moved to Binghamton and attended parties where Jake first met her. She brought four children, then ages 12 to 19, to the marriage, and Jake has enjoyed their growth, marriages, and now the inspiration of eight grandchildren. He and Katharine relocated to Seattle in 1993 and lived in the Capitol Hill neighborhood for many years before becoming some of the first residents in the new Mirabella senior living community downtown.

It has been my good fortune to meet Jake and Katharine twice since I came to Seattle in 2007. I appreciate their zeal for the local community and Seattle’s history, and for sharing their life challenges and triumphs with enthusiasm. They inspire us to think beyond our individual goals and to think about how to contribute more energy to the organizations that shape our lives and our country. As a younger alumnus, recognizing that Jake and his generation led the drive to build America into the economic leader of the world, I most appreciate Jake’s can-do attitude, his generosity and contributions to support leadership in today’s students, and his lead-by-example successes through actively participating in many civil service roles throughout his career.

Congratulations, Jake, as the New York Alpha community recognizes you as a lifetime True Gentleman Award winner, and thank you on behalf of the actives and alumni brotherhood for all you’ve done to support Hillcrest and Cornell, and for inspiring each new generation of leaders coming up through our fraternity.

Phi Alpha,
Lars Weber ’96