A visit with Jake Crossley ’48, SAE’s most generous donor

I recently enjoyed a visit with Brother Jonathan “Jake” Crossley and his wife, Katherine, at their home on Capitol Hill in Seattle to thank him for his generous contribution to Cornell and NY Alpha. I ascended 272 steps to arrive at their modern architecture home. The effort would remind any SAE of the workout we enjoyed while regularly climbing Libe Slope from Hillcrest in our day.

Jake grew up in Binghamton, New York. He began his college studies at Cornell as a member of the class of ’47, paused to serve in the United States Army in 1943, and then found his way back to Ithaca after the war to finish his studies with the class of ’48 in the College of Arts & Sciences. As a freshman, Jake was introduced to SAE by a friend of his parents and was thrilled to be pledged and introduced to the joys of milk punch.

After a stint at Cornell Law School, Jake began a career in the real estate appraisal field, doing both private and government-related work. He confesses to dabbling a bit, although he is now retired.

His partnership in an Oneonta apartment building led to his planned gift to Cornell and Hillcrest, for which we celebrate his contribution to our chapter’s future. Distributions received by NY Alpha from the partnership interest that Jake donated now total a sum that makes his generosity the most significant single source of funds since the inception of the Hillcrest SAE Development Fund. Over the years, distributions have been generated by the property’s cash flow, a refinancing that produced “cash out” and its eventual sale.

At age 52, Jake married a striking lady, Katherine, whose family roots trace back to the early days of Seattle and who has more local stories than one evening visit could possibly contain. They have been married for over 30 years, are avid readers and travelers to significant events and historic places, and are members of a local history club. When they are not traveling to retrace the steps of some early western explorer or city founder, they enjoy cruising the waters of Puget Sound and lower British Columbia with their four grown children and eight grandchildren (one of their daughters is also a Cornellian living in Seattle). They are anxiously awaiting the completion of their new home in the historic South Lake Union district of Seattle, which will keep them close to activities, friends, and family for many years to come. I left our visit feeling that Jake’s passion for life, and his camaraderie and his support for our SAE traditions past and future are a great reminder of why I hold dear my time and experience at Cornell and SAE. I feel confident that all Hillcrest alumni will join me in wishing this true gentleman our very best regards and a hearty Phi Alpha.

Jake looks forward to hearing from other SAEs. He can be reached by email at jrcrossleyjr@comcast.net.

Phi Alpha,
Lars Weber ’96