Brian Lee Gustafson


photo of Brian Lee Gustafson - 2015

Brian Lee Gustafson

Brian Lee Gustafson (born July 16, 1948), 68, of Seattle WA, formerly of Concord CA, Foster City, CA, Las Vegas, NV & Minneapolis, MN  passed away on July 7, 2017, in his home in hospice care, surrounded by family.  A heroic survivor of Mantle Cell Lymphoma in 1999 and Bilateral Lung Transplant in 2014, he suffered subsequent head trauma that proved unrecoverable.


Preceded in death by mother, Frances; Father, Donald. Survived by siblings, Gary (Elizabeth), Grant (Lory), Craig (Karen), Jill (Corey), Dean, Joni (David), nieces and nephews, Beth (Mark), Kim (Tara), Jennifer, Casey (Paige), Jesse (John), Lauren, Leif, Jan, Ben, Jordan, Arwen, Marion; great nieces & nephews, Henry, Greta, Derek, Dominic, Willow, Axel.


Brian graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelors Degree in Interior photo of Brian GustafsonDesign. His love for Mid-Century Modern carried over in his pursuits. Opening a furniture store in Elk River, MN for course credit. Positions Brian held were absolutely entrepreneurial: Asst. Store Manager for Menards in Eau Claire WI; Exterior Sign Designer for YESCO in Las Vegas; developed the leased furniture division at Breuner’s in San Francisco; and operated his construction and design firm CON:STRUCT Builders, in the San Francisco Bay Area. Changing careers to the emerging dot-com market he was involved in extensive web development for Bay Area companies before moving to Seattle in 1998 and continued in this field after that move.


Brian will be remembered for his incredibly positive attitude and strength in adversity, his loving dedication to family, his generosity of spirit, and his enthusiasm for all things both old and new. He had an encyclopedic array of useful knowledge and experience that he regularly put to great use for everyone.


Having been a champion in maintaining a fund site for our brother Dean’s ALS battle, donations to Dean Gustafson feels appropriate. Donations in his memory can be sent to: Dean Gustafson, PO Box 3344, Oakland CA, 94609.

22 Responses to “Brian Lee Gustafson”

  • Craig Gustafson says:

    Thanks Brian for your youthful enthusiasm for all things unique, interesting, fun and odd, and the experiences you sought to give to us. Including your stint as an movie actor in The Chilling!

    A memorial service is desired when family and friends are able to gather in Seattle, San Francisco or Minneapolis. His wishes are for his ashes to be scattered from a high mountain. Like I said above, unique.


  • Margi says:

    I’m sorry for your loss Craig and family- I did not know Brian but I have lost a sibling and I understand the pain. My thoughts and prayers are with you-

  • Joni Hughes says:

    I’ll always fondly remember being buzzed into Brian’s apartment building, descending the stairs to his doorway and being greeted by smell of Swedish pancakes and coffee, both lovingly prepared by Brian himself. He was usually stocking footed and at ease, with jazz or Prairie Home Companion playing on the radio. This is a memory that my kids recall most when talking about their Uncle Bri. I am so glad that he made it back home in his final few hours. Missing him so much!

  • Jeff Smyser says:

    A loss to all who knew him. A family of good people who now are one fewer. My condolences and good wishes to all of you.

  • Allan Anderson says:

    I remember Brian as youngster growing up in Minneapolis but not as an adult person because of the moves on both families. I sure remember Don and Fran and if the Father and Mother are any indications then Brian was a great person. I have a rock that was painted by Fran and is located in a flower pot so I think of the family when I see that rock. I know he will be missed by all.

    Allan (Son of Harold and Frances Anderson)

  • Lisa Fox (Joni's long time friend) says:

    Joni and family – I am so so sorry for the loss of Brian. I was very surprised to see this, and my heart goes out to all who knew him. Please remember to take care of yourselves and each other in this difficult time.


  • Julie Anderson Davidson says:

    I have so many great memories of Brian and his mom, dad, brothers, and sisters. I find joy remembering these memories. My prayers and love go out to his family.

    Julie (daughter of Harold and Frances Anderson

  • Jill Keller says:

    Ah yes, THE CHILLING. He was one of the stars (according to the birthday poster mom made him). His contributions were Zombie, Protester (adorning his Con:struct Builders jacket), prop and set design. All this and he didn’t make a cent. A truly forgettable film and classic at once. He was so excited about that.

    Movies, music, travel, building, experimenting. Brian, I think you were our Renaissance Man. You were loved and will be missed.

  • Janice Carlson Norrie says:

    I knew Brian the best when he was a child. As young children and cousins, we were fortunate to have a close knit family and spent many holidays and family birthdays together. I always remember him as a sweet, kind and gentle soul. My family moved from Minnesota to Florida and his moved to California. I only saw him a few times as an adult, but each time we met we had that family bond and reconnected right away. The last time I saw Brian was at Joni’s a few years ago. He came with lots of childhood photos. We shared laughs and great memories. I will always remember him with great fondness.

  • Dean Gustafson says:

    Damn. Bri was supposed to visit me in the bay area around now, for more great times in our fave haunts of SF, Marin and Oakland.
    We spoke on the phone weekly.
    Hardly know what to say, but a million memories of our great bro emerge and I’m writing them down along the way. He first got me to CA in 1984, and have always been grateful for that big life changing influence.

    Big love for the bro,
    raising a coffee cup of Impermanence,

    p.s. I’m kind of embarrassed about the fundraiser mention for me. Nice, true! But this forum is about Brian.

    p.p.s. Imagine this page using a hi-tech sans serif font instead, with an interface design looking like something from Wired magazine. That would be more Brian like, the technology enthusiast.

  • Kevin Evans says:

    I first met Brian in the mid-late 1980s at one of Dean’s art openings when we (Dean & I) were in art school. a lot of the family was in attendance. I believe it was around that time many of us started calling ’em all “The Viking Mafia”

    Brian (and The Viking Mafia) were enthusiastic regulars and contributors at many Bay Area Cacophony Society gatherings over the years.

    It has been a pleasure to know Brian and his creative, unique family.

  • Jon Alexandr says:

    Brian was a great companion — as was Dean — on a very memorable San Francisco Cacophony Society “zone trip” to Mexico for the 1991 total solar eclipse. I’m sure Brian would have loved seeing the upcoming total solar eclipse of August 21, 2017. So take yourself to the path of totality in Brian’s memory!

  • John Williams says:

    Here’s the slightly edited comment I sent to Dean after hearing of Brian’s death: I stare every day (literally, since it’s just behind my computer monitor) at the beautiful, whimsical painting Dean created for my software company, Midnight Design, and the beautiful redwood frame Brian made. I’ll aways remember Brian as the amiable jack of all trades, helping me with everything from software to home improvement issues. 20 years ago, when I discovered that our rented home in the Oakland hills was leaking into the basement from the shower, I asked Brian for advice and we ended up convincing our landlord to hire Brian to rebuild a completely water-proof, industrial strength tile shower that would never leak. Hopefully it’s still in use today!

    In many ways I think Brian was a Renaissance man, just like the rest of the Gustafson siblings I suspect: part tinkerer, part artist, part builder, and he did it all with a smile. What a crazy medical journey he had. I’m glad he’s not suffering anymore and will remember the good times we had with him.

  • Charlie hughes says:

    Brian was a great guy and had a unique sense of humor. He made a wonderful friend and a warm welcome to the Hughes family.

  • Ron Frick says:

    As a first cousin I’ve known Brian from the time he was a toddler. I have many good memories when we shared an apartment along with one other person near the University of Minnesota. At that time (before computers) he was a techie with respect to stereo equipment. He liked psychedelic rock and the music of Jefferson Airplane and Grateful Dead could often be heard blasting out of our apartment. I’ve known Brian to be an upbeat person despite his serious medical issues later in life. You will be missed Brian.

  • Karen Gustafson says:

    When Brian got excited words would spill from his mouth. Amazingly, after his double lung transplant he kept up with Craig and me as we wandered for hours through the MN State Fair. He was generous with his talents. Over the years he helped us build two bathrooms and replace bargeboards on a 40-foot high roof peak. He also replaced the backside of my mom’s house when carpenter ants had eaten through it. And he could cook up some mean chicken soup. I will best remember him smiling, leaning against the kitchen doorway with arms crossed and one ankle in front of the other; casual, and in the moment, talking with Craig. Bri, you will be missed.

  • Deb Berekvam says:

    Being a younger cousin, although it all feels relative now,the time I had getting to know Brian was at family functions. Holidays and other get togethers are my memories including the time Brian ate more Swedish pancakes than anyone else I have ever known one summer morning at Briggs fast as my mom could fry them. Not sure how I pulled that from my memory bank but I remember it like it was yesterday. I’ll always think of Brian as being a kind gentle spirit who faced adversity with a positive outlook no matter how it impacted him personally. Rest in peace Brian.

  • Carrie Galbraith says:

    Brian was the loveliest of people, so helpful and his brain seemed to be always working on a solution, not a problem! I met him in the 80s and had so many wonderful Cacophony Society events with him and his family. We will all miss you Brian. A real loss to the world.

  • DALE SWENSON says:

    Brian, my friend, it was with disbelief when I received news of your passing.
    When I saw you last in Minneapolis, you were so up beat and full of life to be.
    I started recalling all the good times we had with other friends or just road trips we took.
    The ski trips, the trip to the Rock House in Wisconsin, going downtown Minneapolis to the Milwaukee railroad station where you had a vision for a Farmer’s Market there. We were walking about, you planning and I photographing the station. Then from out of nowhere two burly men in trench coats approached us. They said, “You must cease and de-sist.” They showed us their badges, Railroad Detectives. We left the area and busted up laughing. Seriously! Did they just say what we heard!? Right out of a Thin-man movie.
    We both moved to California. You to San Francisco and I to San Diego. Your first trip to visit in San Diego we took a boat ride to Catalina Island
    My trip to San Francisco, you drove me to location sights of a James Bond movie and the Nash Bridges TV show. Then we met up with Dean. Who is a fantastic artist! We went to Alcatraz. did a walk about at Muir Woods. Next trip of mine to San Francisco we went to Sacramento to the railroad museum. Then to Lake Tahoe, where we saw Sammy Davis Jr. and Bill Cosby at Harrah’s Casino. Next up your visit to San Diego with friends. I took you to the Mexican border for your Mexico adventure. When you came back you brought me a souvenir, a scorpion that you left in my apartment. My roommates enjoyed that item also. Then my trip to Seattle. You had learned your way about town. We went to an outdoor market downtown, the Space Needle, and up the Mountains. I wished to do some scenic photos. You pointed out the house that was used for the TV show “Twin Peaks.”
    Good memories my friend. I imagine now that your creative soul is hard at work remodeling some Angel’s rooms.

    God Bless

  • Jim Lauritzen says:

    There was that time Brian, Dean and myself were working on a house in Orinda. Brian says, hey we need a column here and it would be really cool to have it painted like marble. Why don’t you do that Jim? Probably the most fun I ever had working on a house. Brian had contagious enthusiasm and he loved to see people use their talent. He’s sorely missed here on Earth but I’m sure he’s surfing the pan galactic wherever with relish. Love you bro, Jim

  • sven persson says:

    I am sad to see that Brian has gone. This is a little late to say godbye but I have not red my mails on this address. I remember him when he took care of me when I arrived to Seattle 2003 on my trip to relatives. It was a great time. Thanks for your hospitality. yours sven in sweden

  • Dean Gustafson says:

    Brians ashes are now atop Mt Tamalpais in Marin County, CA. His request was for his remains to be scattered from the top of a tall mountain. While Mt Tam isn’t the tallest mountain in the west, it is an accessible mountain he was most familiar with, having visited, hiked, mountain bicycled, and even rope rappelled upon boulders located at the top.
    Other than Mt Diablo, it was seen on a regular basis as a prominent feature of the San Francisco Bay Area skyline.
    Brian turned me on to the mountain, taking me there in 1984, along with Muir Woods, Stinson Beach, Mill Valley, Sausalito, the Marin headlands…and various events and places in the county. The Marin County Fair, Sausalito Art Festival…Village Music, a few choice breakfast joints and cafés, to name a few. We had such great times!

    So last month Jill, Joni and I drove up there to send his remains off with the world of entropy from dramatically beautiful locations.
    And now I have a view of the mountain from where I recently moved.
    Thanks Bri! I wouldn’t be around here without you.

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