USET Foundation President Emeritus Caspersen Dies

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Finn M.W. Casperson 1942-2009.
Finn M.W. Casperson 1942-2009.

GLADSTONE, New Jersey, Sept. 9–Former U.S. Equestrian Team chairman Finn M.W. Caspersen, whose competitive nature paid off in a multitude of medals for America, died Sept. 7 in Rhode Island. He was 67.

“His leadership over his 20 years with the team was extraordinary. It brought the team to an entirely new level and we can’t be anything but forever grateful to Finn,” said Jane Forbes Clark, the USET Foundation’s president and Chief Executive Officer.

During Caspersen’s tenure, which began in 1982 when he was elected to the USET board, the team won 71 medals, including 25 golds in the Olympics, World Championships and Pan American Games.

His personal involvement with combined driving led the U.S. to prominence in the discipline, previously dominated by Europeans. Mr. Caspersen’s determination to put America on the map in that sport paid off with a gold medal in the 1991 World Pairs Driving Championship, which opened the door to his hugely successful staging of the 1993 World Pairs Championship at Hamilton Farm in Gladstone, home of the USET.

His equestrian involvement was only one segment of the many contributions he made to the worlds of business, education, sports, government and philanthropy, but it was a considerable passion.

“Finn was a huge sports fan,” Clark recalled.

“He loved wrestling, he loved rowing, he loved horses and there was no more enthusiastic owner to be involved with his own team of combined driving horses than Finn,” she said.

He would shed his perennial suit and bowtie for far more casual attire when he rode on the marathon vehicle, helping driver Bill Long as a navigator, and would don grooms’ garb to sit on the carriage during the cones phase of competition without ever compromising his innate dignity.

In his role with the USET, Caspersen became a prominent figure on the international equestrian scene, where, Clark observed, “he was highly regarded and highly respected. What people saw were the characteristics we loved in Finn, which were his commitments, his enthusiasm and his determination to do to the best for the sport that he could do.”

Caspersen was elected as the USET’s treasurer in 1987, and three years later, became president and chairman of the executive committee. In 1992, he moved up to be chairman of the board, a post he held until 2002.

As chairman of Beneficial Corp., which owned Hamilton Farm at one time, Caspersen made sure that the USET would always have access to its historic headquarters by making sure the property was deeded to the team.

A graduate of Brown University and Harvard University Law School, Caspersen was vitally interested in education and headed a highly successful fundraising effort for the law school. His interests and achievements were far-flung. Mr. Caspersen served on the town commission in Jupiter Island, Florida, where he lived for much of the year; he was a director of the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, an honorary lifetime officer of the Royal Windsor Horse Show and the founder of the Gladstone Equestrian Association.

Caspersen, chairman of Knickerbocker Management, a private investment firm, is survived by his wife, Barbara; four sons and grandchildren.