Eight Bells: Tor Birger Arneberg

Published on September 28th, 2015

Screen-Shot-2015-09-25-at-5.30.49-PM-140x140Tor Birger Arneberg, Commodore of Noroton Yacht Club of Darien, CT from 1982 to ’84, an Olympic Silver Medalist, avid sportsman and business entrepreneur who served for more than a decade on the board of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, died Sept. 23 following a lengthy illness. He was 87.

A man of tremendous integrity, Tor grew up in Oslo, Norway, where he spent summers sailing the Oslo fjord and winters skiing the country’s glacial slopes. He was a 1950 graduate of Dartmouth College, in Hanover, N.H., where he was captain of the ski team and lauded in a college production as “the man to watch” and “one of the finest skiers on the Dartmouth squad.” He was the last recipient of the Bradley Plate, awarded to an outstanding athlete in all four skiing disciplines.

Tor competed in the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, as foredeck man on his uncle’s Six Metre Elisabeth X, winning a silver medal for Norway. Later he would name his first-born child Elizabth. He graduated with an MBA from Harvard Business School the following year.

It was during his journey home to Norway that he met his future wife, Jean Marie Overhyser, a Hartford, Ct. native. They were wed in Oslo on October 16, 1954.

In 1959 the Arnebergs moved to the United States, where he landed a job selling plastic bags for the Kordite Corp. He obtained his U.S. citizenship in 1967, and shortly thereafter, joined the Xerox Corp., quickly rising through the executive ranks to become Director of Marketing. In 1975, he became a partner at AgTek International, a commercial tuna fishing venture with global reach. And in 1982, he became a partner with Noroton’s Bill Nightingale in Nightingale& Associates, a management consulting firm, as a partner.

During that time, he brokered numerous private equity deals for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and was named to the Board of Directors in November 1988, where he served as chairman of the company’s Audit, Stock Options and Compensation Committees.

Mr. Arneberg served on the Board of Directors of Precision Manufacturing Co., in Springfield Vt., and was an Executive Trustee and Vice President of the American Scandinavian Foundation.

His true passion, though, was athletics. More than once, Mr. Arneberg proclaimed that he wanted a single word on his tombstone: Sportsman. As well as being a member of Noroton, he retained memberships in the Royal Norwegian Yacht Club (KNS) in Oslo. He was also a member of the North American Station of the Royal Scandinavian Yacht Squadron.

At Noroton, Mr. Arneberg was a highly competitive in the Ensign, Soling and Sonar classes and continued to be a superb downhill skier throughout his life. He excelled at tennis and paddle tennis, and later in life, even took up golf. With sparkling blue eyes and a shock of white hair, the ladies called him the “Silver Fox”.

In 1971, he settled with his family in Darien with requisite views of Long Island Sound, and eventually built a home in Woodstock, Vt., on the crest of a mountain overlooking the Ottauquechee River valley near his beloved Dartmouth. Mr. Arneberg relocated to Belleair, Florida in 2012, as his health began to fail. In addition to his wife of 61 years, Mr. Arneberg is survived by three daughters, Elisabeth Phillips of Belleair, Fl., Marianne Arneberg of Orlando, Fl., and Karin Hathaway of Norwich, Vt.; six grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and six nieces and nephews in Norway, with whom he retained close family ties.

In remembrance of Mr. Arneberg’s celebrated life, his family asks that in lieu of flowers or a memorial, donations be made to the American Scandinavian Foundation, 58 Park Ave., N.Y., N.Y. 10016. – Bruce Kirby

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