At the end of every summer, when George W. Cutting Jr. and his wife, Lucy, returned from their second home in Alaska, they would have a soiree for scientists from the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and prominent Long Islanders.
Bruce Stillman, president of the lab, remembers the informal receptions at the Cuttings' Oyster Bay Cove home for plenty of smoked salmon, as well as a chance for his scientists to tell people about their work.
"He was one of our most enthusiastic supporters," Stillman said of Cutting. "He was very proud of the lab and was actually quite concerned that people did not know enough about what we did. He would say it should not be Long Island's best-kept secret."
Cutting, whose philanthropic efforts helped raise millions for the nonprofit, died last Thursday of complications from a recent heart surgery, family said. He was 77.
Cutting, who worked as a stock broker and portfolio manager for Fahnestock & Co. in Manhattan, first became involved in promoting the lab through his father-in-law, Edward Pulling, family said. Cutting's son, George Cutting III, of Glenwood Springs, Colo., said the lab's fundraising arm was then in its formative years and was called the Long Island Biological Association.
Over the years, Cutting believed the name should be more closely related to the lab, so he pushed for its transition to the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Association in 1991, Stillman said.
He served as a trustee on the association's board from 1986 to 1993.
Cutting always seemed to be spreading news about the lab, which for more than 100 years has been a leading educational and scientific research institution. Stillman remembers Cutting once returned from a Florida speaking engagement with a $200,000 check for the lab.
"He had an infectious enthusiasm for the lab," Stillman said. "He enjoyed interacting with scientists and liked hearing directly from them about their work and discoveries."
Cutting's son said his father's biggest achievement was helping Long Islanders understand the importance of the work being done at the lab.
The younger Cutting also remembered his father as a "die-hard" New York Jets fan, first following the football team when it played at the Polo Grounds as the Titans. For many years, Cutting and his wife had season tickets on the 50-yard line at Shea Stadium, where they cheered Joe Namath's Jets. They also traveled to Miami in 1969 to watch Super Bowl III, when Namath successfully predicted a Jets victory over the heavily favored Baltimore Colts.
"He even stomped a hole in the living room floor once when the Jets were playing poorly," his son said.
In addition to his son, Cutting is survived by his wife of 52 years, Lucy Pulling Cutting of Oyster Bay Cove; daughters Lucy Cutting of Greenwich, Conn., Cynthia Cutting Robinson of Moultonborough, N.H., and Susan Cutting of Belfast, Maine; sisters Martha McDuffie of Bailey, Colo., and Dorothy Cutting of Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada; and five grandchildren.
A memorial service is 11 a.m. Thursday at St. John's Church, Cold Spring Harbor. Cutting's remains will be cremated.