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Local Sons of Norway celebrates 75 years

Svalbard Lodge 33 party to include historical presentations, food and Scandinavian dance music

Posted: Sunday, March 07, 2010

Combine Norwegian food, skiing, folk dancing, music, wood carving and folk art, and you've got a grand party to mark the 75th anniversary of the local Sons of Norway Svalbard Lodge.

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Courtesy Of David Moe
Courtesy Of David Moe

Sons of Norway Svalbard Lodge 33's anniversary celebration will be held at 5 p.m. Saturday in the Baronof Hotel's Treadwell Room.

The event will include a keynote address by District 2 President Waldo Bueing and presentation on the history of the Juneau lodge by Richard Wilmot. Elfrida Nord will present on the Svalbard Islands in northern Norway, and Dale Wygant and friends will provide Scandinavian dance music.

David Moe, president of Svalbard Lodge 33, said the members of the lodge are eager to celebrate Scandinavia's many traditions. Personally, he is most anxious to see historical pictures of the lodge.

"I have known so many people who are no longer with us, and I miss them," Moe said. "I'm looking forward to seeing so many people once again."

Moe, also a past-president and past zone director for Alaska, past district counselor and past district vice-president, joined the lodge in 1976 when he moved to Juneau.

"I joined the lodge to learn more about our Norwegian culture," he said. "Both my wife and I have Norwegian ancestry. My great-grandparents came in the 1860s and both of my wife's parents are from Norway, coming in the 1920s."

Moe said that when he joined, the older members at the time loved to cook.

"Many of the younger generation don't cook or have never learned," he said.

Like Moe, Laurie Fuglvog, Juneau Sons of Norway publicity director and Juneau resident since 1989, for the cultural activities and great Scandinavian food.

"This a great fraternal organization, which has scholarship programs and valuable cultural activities to keep Scandinavian heritage alive," she added.

In the future, Fuglvog hopes the lodge will increase its number of families and active members in the younger generations to help keep the lodge strong.

"I hope the lodge will carry on the traditions of the past and make it a more inclusive organization," Moe agreed. "We respect all cultures, but want our children and grandchildren to respect theirs also."

LODGE IN JUNEAU

Juneau's Svalbard Lodge was the northern most lodge when it was organized and chartered on Jan. 4, 1935. Prior to 1935, there were two Sons of Norway Lodges in the area: the Northern Lights Lodge in Douglas and the Goldbelt Lodge in Juneau.

"In spite of many Norwegian miners during the gold mining days, both lodges closed in the 1920s after the Treadwell Mine in Douglas closed," Fuglvog said. "Many Alaskans have Scandinavian ancestry. Norwegians came to Alaska to fish, log, mine; some herded reindeer in Kodiak."

Today, Alaska has Sons of Norway lodges in Kodiak, Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Ketchikan, Sitka and Petersburg. Petersburg was established in the 1890s by Norwegians who developed a fishing industry there.

HISTORY

Juneau's Sons of Norway lodge is a nonprofit fraternal organization and its activities include raising funds locally for scholarships and community services during popular cultural events, including the Scandinavian Frokost Breakfast in the spring and a fall Bazaar with Scandinavian foods.

The mission of the Sons of Norway organization is "To promote and preserve the heritage and culture of Norway, to celebrate the relationship with other Nordic countries, and to provide quality insurance and financial products to its members."

Sons of Norway was organized as a fraternal benefit society by 18 Norwegian immigrants in Minneapolis, Minn., on Jan. 16, 1895. The purposes and goals were to protect members and their families from financial hardships during times of sickness or death. This was gradually expanded to include the preservation of Norwegian heritage and culture.

"It was started as a Fraternal Benefit Life Insurance Company because immigrants could not buy life insurance in the United States until they obtained their citizenship," Moe said. "They developed a lodge system fashioned after the Masonic Lodge."

According to Moe, the oldest lodge - Leif Erickson Lodge No. 2-001 - was organized in Seattle, Wash., on May 13, 1903, and continues today with a large active membership.

Today, there are about 435 lodges across the United States, Canada and Norway, divided into eight districts. The local lodge is in District 2, which includes Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska, and has a total of 48 lodges.

• Contact Neighbors editor Kim Andree at kim.andree@juneauempire.com.



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