Kirsten Solsvig Galef, a leading advocate for the Southampton Fresh Air Home, died on January 30 at her home in Southampton. She was 64.
Born September 1, 1957, Galef was raised in Wauwatosa, WI, the second of two children to Beverly and Curtis Solsvig. She attended Fisher Elementary School across from the family home, where her mother, Beverly, taught first grade. The family regularly attended Sunday services at the local Methodist church, at which her father, Curtis, an insurance agent, was a trustee.
After graduating from Wauwatosa West High School, she left Wisconsin and attended Smith College in Northampton, MA, graduating in 1979. Upon graduation, Galef went into the travel business in New York City, where she founded and built a company organizing musical groups’ overseas tours, including the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
In New York, she met the love of her life, James M. Galef, a young investment banker at the time who later became a successful private investor, and they married in 1988. The couple loved traveling together and spending summers in Southampton. They had five children who they raised in Greenwich, CT in a warm home full of love.
Jim tragically died in a 2004 plane crash, and Galef raised their five children, aged 2–15, on her own with complete devotion and love, seeing them through the ups and downs of childhood and adolescence. She had a rich life outside of her household, with many wonderful and supportive friends, and was a beloved member of the Greenwich Garden Club and the LOSTS Investment Club in Greenwich. She was also a member of the Putnam Hill Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Galef’s great passion was the Southampton Fresh Air Home, which provides year-round recreational and educational programs for children and young adults with physical disabilities. She joined the board in 2001, served as Board President from 2016–2018, and continued as a board co-chair. Galef was head of the development committee for more than a decade, and served on the finance and audit committees. She was integral in rebuilding the campus main building, chairing fundraising events, and many other projects.
She was also a talented home designer, working with architects on three large-scale home renovation projects, including a home in Greenwich that was featured as a Home of the Week in The Wall Street Journal. Galef has been hailed by colleagues as the most independent, strong-willed, and creative person they had ever worked with. Her eye for aesthetics was unparalleled, and this was most evident in her talent for landscape design. She spent many sunny mornings in her gardens with her children and beloved dogs.
Galef will be missed by her many friends and family who called her a force of nature, and noted they are all diminished by her loss.
She is survived by her five children, Lily, Ben, Annabelle, Charlotte and James Galef, as well as her brother Curtis G. Solsvig III.
A memorial will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, February 5 at The Basilica Parish of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Southampton Fresh Air Home at 36 Barkers Island Road Southampton, NY 11968 or via sfah.org.