Deceased May 29, 2022

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In Memory

Steven Gluckstern '72
Steven Mark Gluckstern ’72 was one of the most dynamic, curious, creative and interesting businesspeople of his generation. He was a brilliant intellect; more importantly, he was an exemplar of the humanistic values that Amherst strives to convey.  

Steven died on May 29 from brain cancer, at his home in Santa Fe.  

Steven was pre-med at Amherst and graduated with a degree in natural sciences. However, during his senior year at Amherst, Steven shifted his focus and started a doctoral program in education at UMass, which he completed in 1974. He met his future wife, Judy O’Connor (Smith ’74), in the spring of that year at a joint rehearsal of the Amherst and Smith Glee Clubs. In the fall of 1974, Steven also started an alternative middle school program in Scarsdale (called “CHOICE”) which still operates today.

After teaching at the Community School in Tehran, Iran, and starting an overseas educational consulting firm, Steven started at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. In between years at Stanford, Steven became superintendent of the Telluride (Colorado) school system.

Shortly thereafter, Steven joined Lehman Brothers and, subsequently, Warren Buffett, to run a reinsurance company. When Buffett didn’t back a new insurance idea that Steven had developed, he found other backers (including Zurich Insurance Group) to start Centre Reinsurance in 1988. Centre Reinsurance was enormously successful, revolutionizing the reinsurance industry and making Steven an insurance industry icon.  

The success of Centre Reinsurance created a platform that Steven used to start other successful companies within the Zurich Group, including one he took public in 1994, and he joined Zurich Group’s Executive Board in 1998.  

In 2001, Steven left the Zurich Group and continued as a serial entrepreneur. He started an asset management firm, a mortgage resolution company designed to assist homeowners hurt in the Great Recession, several medical technology companies and a hemp company.

Steven was a substantial philanthropist for LGBT causes, HIV/AIDS and other humanitarian charities and the arts. Steven was also a principal owner of two NHL franchises, the Phoenix Coyotes and the New York Islanders, and a minor league baseball franchise.  

He was a trustee of Amherst from 1998-2009.

All of Steven’s friends and colleagues knew he was eclectic and electric. As his daughter, Sarah, and son, J.D., said after his death, “He was fun. Steven made sure life was colorful for everyone in his orbit . . .If you got the invite, you made sure you were there with your dancing shoes.”

John Shuck ’73