Tuesday, June 04, 2013

June 2013

Farsælda Frón

Icelandic Association of Chicago
Volume No. 15  Issue No. 1

From the President’s desk

90th Anniversary celebration continues!

Our open board meeting on the 11th of May was successful and productive.  We covered various topics including Þorrablót 2013, planning of Þorrablót 2014, 17th of June celebration, improvements to our website and redesign, festivities in Vasa Park, membership and marketing – and last but not least, the first two scholarships were approved at the meeting, hurray!  We also added a new member to our board:  Kolla Kristjánsdóttir Fass is the new Chairperson for Membership and Marketing – Welcome onboard Kolla. 

Next up is Iceland’s Independence Day celebration on June 22nd in Vasa Park, Elgin.  We still like our recent location, Promontory Point by the Lake, but this time the date falls on the same day as Midsummer Festival in Vasa Park where the IAC sells Icelandic Glacial water for our scholarship fund. So we thought it was a good idea to combine the two.  We hope to see many of you there for the Icelandic hot dogs with all the trimmings. 

The 8th Greater Chicago Icelandic Open will be held at Hilldale Golf Club in Hoffman Estates on August25th and registration has started.  Larry Shaw and his daughter, Kathy Mehl are the 2012 Champions.  Like Þorrablót, the golf outing has sold out for the last three years! You can register here.

Gleðilegt Sumar,

Einar Steinsson

From the Editor

I hope this spring finds you well and that you are enjoying the back and forth between hot and cold weather. Hopefully our Independence Day (17di Júní) celebration which will be held on the 22nd of June in Elgin’s Vasa Park will bring us sun and a light breeze and lots of fun and good food. Just remember that the Icelandic hot dog is one of the best food groups out there. Lena provides us with immaculate details about the celebration below our "New and Noteworthy" section. See you then!

We encourage you to read Joni Shaw's piece below that she wrote about the history of the Icelandic Association of Chicago and its origins. It illustrates the unique relationship among this tiny community of people from that island in the North Atlantic, no matter where we land within an enormous world population.

Attached you will also find two articles written by John Hofteig about the recent elections in Iceland and the INL.

New and Noteworthy

  • We have new information regarding a new link on our website listing sponsors who have generously donated to the Association for various events, including the scholarship fund. More details below.
  • If you have ever wondered what it would be like to travel inside of a volcano, you can read how to do so here.
  • The Norse Mythology blog is holding a Midsummer Art Contest for all ages. Check it out

Iceland's Independence Day '17di Júní'– Vasa Park, Elgin, Saturday June 22nd.  Icelandic Hot Dogs!

All members are invited to celebrate our Independence Day at the Midsummer Festival in Vasa Park, Elgin.  Please join us for a picnic style festival and a fun afternoon, in the company of other Scandinavians celebrating Midsummer, which we Icelanders call Jónsmessa.  The IAC treats you to Icelandic hot dogs, pylsa, Icelandic style – ‘ein með öllu’ – which includes dried fried onion and remoulade!  What makes our hot dogs unique and oh so good, is the Icelandic lamb meat.  Please note that other than the hot dogs, the event is a BYO, so please bring drinks, sides, salads, sweets, or other plates you'd like to eat or share.  You can also purchase food items from vending specialties in support of the Scandinavian Club and our Association sells pop and Icelandic Glacial water in support of our scholarship fund.  Remember to bring picnic gear: blankets, lawn chairs, sunscreen, insect repellent, umbrellas...  If anyone owns flags or other 17th of June decorations, please bring it with you – takk!

Logistics. The official address for Vasa Park is Rte 31, South Elgin.  It is north of North Avenue on Rte 31. It is made obvious by the Scandinavian flags on the east side of the road.  The price for entering the park: adults $5:00 donation, age 12 and under free.  No pets are permitted on the grounds.  The park opens at 1:30 PM but the Icelanders will meet at 3 PM and fire up the grill for the dogs.  We'll have our parade with flags and balloons but the park also offers other activities including music and a bonfire! 

We look forward to seeing you, rain or shine and sing:  Hæ, hó, jibbíjei og jíbbííjei, það er kominn 17di júní…

Email Lena if you have any questions and check out Vasa Park’s webpage for more information on the Midsummer and other events at the park this summer. We attached the official Vasa Park flyer to this e-mail as well for your reading pleasure.

The 8th Greater Chicago Icelandic Open – Save the Date:  August 25th at 1:00 PM

Registration for The Icelandic Open starts in June.  It’ll be the same place, Hilldale Golf Club in Hoffman Estate, and same price, $35, as last year; maybe, new results… and for sure, fun time for everyone.  Trip to Iceland for a ‘hole in one’ and lots of other goodies.  If you already know you’ll play, let me know and I’ll reserve a spot.  We have sold out the last three years.  Spread the word, and have a great weekend. You can register here.

From the Ministry for Foreign Affairs: Announcing the New Government in Iceland:

A Government of the Progressive Party and the Independence Party took office on May 23rd, 2013.

A comprehensive policy statement of the new Government in Iceland has been introduced, where the focus is put on a forward looking policy, aiming at serving the whole of the country and the people. The guiding element will be the improved prospects of the households in Iceland, and promotion of opportunities in trade and employment, which will create added value for the benefit of the nation as a whole.
Nine ministers will take seat in the new government, four from the Progressive Party, and five from the Independence Party. Two of the current ministries, Ministry of Industries and Innovation, and Ministry of Welfare, will have two ministers each. 

Scandinavian Day – September 8, 2013

Save this date and come and celebrate Vasa Park’s 60th year anniversary. Traditional food, crafts, games, gifts and entertainment are fare for the day.  The vendors always have great Scandinavian products to tempt you.  An ABBA Salute will be a highlight of the day along with many local clubs who will entertain with song and dance. Scandinavian food will be in abundance and the Icelandic Association of Chicago will sell Icelandic Glacial Water and pop once again. 

We need many hands to help us with that venture.  The proceeds go entirely to our Scholarship Program.  Please contact Joni Shaw (ammajoni@msn.com)  to set up a time to sell that wonderful water with us.

The day will begin with a Worship Service followed by the Opening Ceremonies.  For the Opening Ceremonies we need several volunteers: two people for the procession - one to carry the Icelandic flag and one to carry the sign for Iceland; and a soloist or a group (Thorrachoir?) to sing the beautiful Icelandic National Anthem.  Again – deluge Joni Shaw with your willingness to sign up for these opportunities.

The festivities begin at 9:00 AM  and conclude at 6:00 PM. Fees are $10.00 for adults, children 12 and under are free.  Parking is free.  Vasa Park is located in South Elgin on Rte 31 which is 7 miles south of 1-90 (Northwest Tollway) or 5 miles north of Il Rte 64 (North Avenue)

New “Sponsor” Tab on IAC Website

Marc Johnson, our webmaster, recently added a “Sponsor” tab or button on the top-right of our homepage.  Clicking on the “Sponsor” tab opens a page listing several companies which have made contributions of cash or in-kind gifts to the Icelandic  Association of Chicago or have otherwise been very helpful in ensuring the success of our Scholarship Program, Annual Icelandic Open Golf Tournament, and our Thorrablot.  The Board and those who worked on our most recent Thorrablot will be up-dating this page to include vendors who have donated raffle gifts for recent Thorrablots.  If you know of companies which should be  recognized for their valued assistance to our Association, please contact any member of the IAC Board and please consider patronizing these enterprises which have  been so helpful to our Association.  Once this list is fully up-dated, a future Frón article will provide additional background relevant to each of these IAC sponsors.     J.H.H.

Joni Shaw Remembers:

Dear friends,

To those of you who may remember the early days of the Chicago Icelandic Club (Visir  and the Chess Club) and to those of you who are young and don’t know our early history – I submit this document written by another generation. My mother was one of the authors and that is why I have this particular version.  My intent is twofold: one is to inform and the second is to invite submissions to complete our history.  This is our 90th Year Anniversary as a gathering of Icelanders and I have been asked by Logberg-Heimskringla to detail Chicago’s history to date, including pictures.  The editor would especially like a picture of Arni Helgasson. Where I have a real void of information is starting in the 50’s and 60’s.  How did the club get started again? Who spearheaded the effort?  Who were the driving forces? How often did they gather and what did they do? Icelanders are writers.  Please send me your memories and pictures, if possible.  As previously mentioned, I need memories of the 50’s to the present day – but especially the time of its demise to the days when it started up again.  I know there was a time when it was a very large and active group and I want to document that era. Either email your thoughts to ammajoni@msn.com or call me at 630-466-5555


Many of the Chicago Icelanders are from families that migrated to Canada in the 1870’s.  They became fishermen, fur trappers and farmers for the most part.  The second generation, looking for a better way of life, came to Chicago in the early 1920’s.

Hjortur Thordarson, who had a transformer manufacturing company in Chicago, hired a good number of these young Icelanders when they came to the city.  Some of those men started their own companies.  Arni Helgason was one – Lawrence Johnson was another.  Arni Helgason’s firm was the Chicago Transformer Company, no longer in existence.  Lawrence Johnson’s firm was Johnson Electric Coil Company and is still in existence located in Antigo, Wisconsin, enjoying sixty years of successful business.  It is still owned by the second and third generation of Lawrence Johnson.

From this nucleus, the first Chicago Icelandic Club was formed around 1923.  The “Visir” Club was extremely successful, meeting monthly from September to May, with a picnic in June at Harms Woods, north of Chicago.  Speeches, games and races were all an intricate part of these picnics and they were well attended.  (Marge has old movies of some of these picnics.)

The Visir meetings attracted a large number to which they were treated to good food (some Icelandic), speakers and news from Iceland.  An Icelandic student entertained us with his great tenor voice at one time.  Young people wrote and produced small plays and skits.  There was also poetry and group singing.  These meetings were attended by both parents and children.  Many came from quite a distance.  The meetings were held at the Norski Club on Kedzie Avenue in Logan Square, Chicago.

A Halloween costume party with live music always brought out a lot of members and guests.  Each year the annual February Thorrablot was held.  The Iceland Airlines also gave round trip tickets to raffle.

A Christmas party was given for the children in December.  Each youngster had to perform, sing, dance, play music or recite before Santa Claus arrived to give each child a gift around the big Christmas tree.  Sveinn Storm and Arni Helgason were Santas for many times.  Arni’s white hair and rotund figure made it hard for anyone to doubt this was really Santa. (He was President of Visir for some time and also Counsul to Iceland.)

A large faction of this group started the Icelandic Chess Club in 1928.  They met in the homes monthly during the winter.  Dorothy Johnson has the minutes of these meetings, written Icelandic until 1939.  The last minutes were written in 1963.

Visir began its decline during and after World War 11, when so many of the young were in the service and the group of older ones occupied in defense work.  It started up rather weakly during the late 40’s and early 50’s, but did not survive.

The Chess Club continued into the 60’s when the older members began to pass away and chess did not hold an interest for the younger people, busy starting their families.

These clubs were a good opportunity for the members to speak Icelandic and keep up the skills of their language. (At one time Joe Bjornson, who was a teacher at Harrison High School, gave Icelandic lessons to some of the younger members.)  Also, many of these Icelanders came to Chicago leaving their families in Canada.  Therefore, a closeness was established between them to fill the family void.  The early social life revolved around these Icelandic groups.

These notes are compiled – with the help of several long-time members still living – of their memories and ours:

Marjorie Johnson Krengel
Dorothy Clemens Johnson
Dolores Thorkelson Johnson
Second generation of the Canadian immigrants

The following is a list of the families in the early days of Visir,

The First Chicago Icelandic Club

Joe Bjornson, President                                              Arni Helgason , President
Oli Alfred                                                                   Joe Gudmundson, President
Gustav Anderson                                                        Skafti Gudmundson
Julius Anderson                                                          Lawrence Johnson
Petur Anderson                                                           C. Melsted
Egill Anderson                                                           Daniel Olafson
Arni Arnason                                                              Sveinn Storm
Alex Benson                                                               Allen Sveinsson
Ben Geston                                                                 Wm. Taylor
Ingolfur Brynjolfsson                                                 Th. Thorkelson
Kris Christianson                                                       Eric Vigfusson
Paul Clemens                                                              Vigfus Vigfusson – and later ones
Pall Einarson                                                              Earl Krengel
Kristin Helgason                                                        Monte Johnson
Vigfus Johnson                                                           Fred Weisman

Apologies to those who may have been omitted

Reflecting on this history, I have some impressions of my own as a child of these first Icelanders in Chicago.  My grandfather, Paul Melsted Clemens, came directly from Reykjavik to Chicago with his family in the 1890’s. Icelanders in Chicago were in significant numbers at that time. He was one of the founders of the Icelandic Club in 1923. My mother was born in Winnipeg, however, the family returned to Chicago in the  1920’s.  She graduated from Hyde Park High School.  My father was born in Gardar, North Dakota but was raised in Wynard, Saskatchewan   He came to Chicago in the 1930’s and was welcomed and housed within the caring and generous Icelandic community. Hjortor Thordarson, who was mentioned in the article above, was a prosperous Icelander who provided jobs for many Icelanders. (Google Chester Thordarson – Thordarson Electric Manufacturing Company.)They were hard workers (and annoyed many of his other employees who didn’t want to work so hard - according to lore). There were clusters of Icelanders all over the city.  My family was on the south side, but many were on the north side. They helped each other and nobody even entertained the question “What’s in it for me?” This attitude influenced me greatly as a child.

Many came from Canada and I spent many summers in Canada with family members. However, we didn’t say we were going to Canada or the US – we said Winnipeg, Wynard, Ashern, Kandahar or Chicago.  Who knew there was a border? We were all one – Icelanders in North America.  It was a shock to me when a few years ago I had to have a passport to visit my family.  For most of my life we were one and in my mind we still are.

Their children were included in the gathering.  I particularly remember the picnics where there was Glima and long speeches which also included Rimur.  Three legged races and egg tossing games were for the children – and PONNUKOKUR.  They encouraged the creative side of their children. We were one big family.

I lovingly remember more than half of these Chicago Icelanders and my actions and decisions are generally informed by the lessons learned from these loving, generous and pragmatic Icelanders.

Joni (Johnson) Shaw

27-April-2013 Parliamentary Elections:

Iceland, the proverbial land of Fire [volcanoes] and Ice [glaciers], is also home to earthquakes, both those measured on the Richter scale and those registered in the voting booth, as evidenced by dramatic changes in 2009 and most recently in 2013.  Four years ago, when the severity of Iceland’s fiscal and financial crises erupted, a plurality of the electorate was receptive to or in favor of joining the European Union and adopting the Euro in order to avoid wildly fluctuating foreign-exchange rates.  In addition, the electorate was disenchanted, at best, and angry, at worst, at the financial abuses by some following privatization of the banking sector.  The time, then, was ripe for the Socialist Party and Left Green Party to each garner a plurality of the vote, in aggregate, sufficient to form a durable coalition government.  Now four years later, this same Icelandic electorate is skittish, at best, regarding joining the EU and adopting the Euro, especially because the former might restrict Iceland’s prerogatives regarding fishing quotas, etc., still a significant driver of Iceland’s economy, despite recent decades of remarkable diversification.  In addition, the financial and fiscal circumstances of  Iceland and its citizens, while not fully resolved, have seen much improvement in the intervening four years.  As Ambassador Stefánsson wryly noted in his banquet remarks at the recent INL of NA Seattle Convention:  “Iceland is still not out of the woods:  Iceland has no forests!”  Ironically, this time-around, the Progressive Party which, early-on, had advocated privatization of the major state-owned banks, and the Independence Party, which executed same, each garnered a plurality of the votes, in aggregate, sufficient to form a durable coalition government which was announced on 23-May-2013.  Relevant to their joint success was the fact that, at the present time, the Progressive Party is opposed to joining the EU and the Independence Party is skittish.

Members and friends of our Association who are fluent in Iceland are quite up-to-date on all of this, as relevant news in Icelandic is available on-line [ www.RUV.is and www.Morgunbladid.is].  Those not fluent in Icelandic will find relevant English-language postings in Daily News From Iceland [www.IcelandReview.com], especially the posting dated:  23- and 24-May-2013, which summarize the final accords agreed to by the two new coalitions partners and the final allocation of ministerial portfolios amongst Progressive and Independence Party members of the new Althing.  The Wall Street Journal in its print editions, dated:  26- and 29-April-2013, respectively, immediately before and after the parliamentary elections, had excellent analyses, the full transcripts for which are available via an exact-word Google search on the following two phrases:  “Europe Gets Cold Shoulder in Iceland” and “Iceland’s Voters Oust Pro-European Leadership.”

Icelandic National League of North America [www.INLofNA.org] 94th Annual Convention, Seattle, WA  April 4-7, 2013:  “There’s No Place Like HEIMA!”

Our Association was represented by John H. Hofteig.  This year’s convention theme was in keeping with the INL of NA’s mandate of preserving Icelandic Heritage for Western Icelanders and promoting same in their respective North American communities.  Included were twenty-some presentations around the general theme of Iceland as HEIMA, i.e., home, even for Western Icelanders remote in time by one or more generations from Iceland.  The convention was hosted by the Icelandic Club of Greater Seattle and held at the downtown Seattle Crowne Plaza, attended by at least 170 delegates and many guests from Iceland.

An optional day-long tour of the Icelandic-heritage community of Blaine, WA included an excellent presentation by Ms. Joan Thorsteinsson Linde, a long-time resident of nearby tiny Point Roberts, WA, a community whose early settlement was augmented by sixty-plus Icelandic families who re-immigrated from Victoria, BC, beginning circa 1894.  Initially, these Icelandic immigrants were attracted by the prospect of free land per “squatter’s rights,” exceedingly abundant salmon fishing in adjacent waters, and employment opportunities at four very large fish canneries then in full production.  Point Roberts is a peninsula south of Vancouver, BC cut-off from contiguous land-access to the rest of Washington State by the 49th Parallel.  Originally intended as the site of an American military fort, early-on it almost became a forgotten isolated fragment of remote United States territory.  All of this changed early in the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt when the federal government announced formal plans to develop this area for permanent settlement.  The residents of Point Roberts, mainly of Icelandic descent but also including those from Germany, Denmark, and elsewhere, immediately mobilized and petitioned Washington, DC for the right to remain as landed-immigrants.  President Roosevelt’s personal representative was so impressed with the industry of these early immigrants and the improvements they had made to a once heavily-forested coastal area that all of its residents were immediately granted secure homestead rights for the very first time.  So grateful were these new American citizens that they engaged a local German immigrant and professional tanner to sacrifice a prized ram and make a rug for the President from its hide, a gift which President Roosevelt graciously accepted and acknowledged with a letter still preserved by local Icelanders in the archives of Point Roberts.

Late-breaking news bulletin:  Þrúdur Helgadóttir [see below] was so impressed with Joan’s presentation that she arranged for a television crew from Iceland to come to Point Roberts this past 30-May-2013 for about five hours, photographing various sites and interviewing several residents.  The resulting documentary will be aired in Iceland sometime next December, details to follow.

Other notable presentations during the Convention included a report and video by INL of NA 2nd V.P Sunna Pam Furstenau on her 2012 two-week tour of twelve communities in Iceland in which she presented vignettes about Icelandic settlements in North America, all under the auspices of the INL of NA’s International Visits Program, the same program which brought Icelandic scholar, Viðar Hreinsson, to Chicago last October.

Ásta Sól Krístjánsdóttir, Reykjavík, long-time Project Manager for the Snorri Foundation [www.Snorri.is], reported on its three principal programs:  Snorri for young adults and Snorri-Plus for mature adults and retirees from North America and Snorri-West, the program which brings young Icelanders to North America to visit selected clusters of Western Icelandic-heritage communities in the U. S. and Canada.  She gave John a copy of the 30-minute DVD, The Wayfarers:  Seeking Identity, which she produced, profiling three recent North American Snorri participants.  Once it is “officially” broadcast, she has given permission for it to be shown to our membership and posted on the Scholarship page(s) of our website [www.IcelandChicago.org]

Gail Einarsson-McCleerry, Honorary Icelandic Consul General, Toronto, ON and the immediate-past president of the INL of NA, presented long-range planning for Snorri-West tours by young Icelanders to clusters of Icelandic-heritage settlement sites throughout North America, which in two or three years may include a clustered visit to the heritage communities of Mountain, ND, Minneota, MN, Washington Island, WI, and Chicago, IL.  Yes, Chicago does indeed qualify as an Icelandic-heritage community long before contemporary immigrants came here for educational and career opportunities!.  Our Joni Shaw will be assembling additional  relevant historical information to be shared with IAC members and friends but, for now, suffice it to say that Chicago was, very early-on, an important disembarkation transfer point for the earliest immigrants and notable Icelanders in Chicago enthusiastically provided employment for many Icelandic immigrants, including in the 1920’s the Icelandic-American founder of Johnson Electric Coil Company, the electrical transformer manufacturer now based in Antigo, WI, Lawrence Johnson, the father of our long-time IAC member, William L. Johnson, Chairman Emeritus, now nearly 87-years-young!  The company is now managed by a member of the family’s third generation.  [Please see Joni accompanying article for additional information regarding the celebration of ninety years of Icelandic heritage here in Chicago.]

Both of Iceland’s Ambassadors to Canada [Þórður Ægir Óskarsson] and the United States [Guðmundur Stefánsson] reaffirmed the Government of Iceland’s long-abiding interest in preserving and enhancing relations between Iceland and Western Icelanders, the descendants of Icelandic immigrants to North America all the way back to the 1850’s.  Such has been a mandate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in every government since Iceland declared its full sovereignty in 1944.  The presence of both Ambassadors exemplified the close cooperation between the Government of Iceland and the INL of NA to preserve and communicate Icelandic heritage.

At the festive Saturday evening banquet, entertainment featured Icelandic soprano, Guðrún Íngimarsdóttir, in a repertoire of classic and contemporary Icelandic songs, light operetta selections, and American classics.  She was joined by Seattle-based tenor, Jon Palmson, in lighter fare.  The two of them also offered a longer recital Sunday afternoon in the nearby, downtown Seattle, Pilgrim Congregation.  The banquet also afforded an opportunity to publically recognize and thank retiring long-time Icelandic diplomat and Winnipeg, MB Consul General, Atlí Ásmundsson and his wife, Þrúdur Helgadóttir, who have been friends indeed to Western Icelanders all across North America.

At the formal Annual General Meeting, our Joni was elected as an INL of NA At-large Board Member.  Joni is well-qualified to serve in this capacity:  She has been our representative to the INL of NA for the past one-and-a-half years; is our correspondent to the Lögberg Heimskringla; and together with Larry Shaw, our long-time IAC Treasurer, has an abiding interest in preserving and sharing Icelandic heritage, as evidenced by their frequent visits to Mountain, ND [near where her father was born], attendance at Íslendingadagurinn, Gimli. MB [the largest annual Icelandic festival in North America], and representing our Association at the annual Scandinavian Day, Vasa Park.

With Joni’s election, three of the six Directors at-Large represent INL of NA chapters resident in the United States.  Two of the five principal constitutional officers, 1st V.P. Claire Eckley [Roseville, MN] and 2nd V.P. Sunna Pam Furstenau [Fargo, ND] represent United States-resident chapters.  According to INL of NA polity, at the Spring 2014 convention, Claire will automatically ascend to the Presidency of the INL of NA for two years.  Likewise, two years later, in 2016, Pam will ascend to the Presidency.

Also, John was appointed to two important INL of NA committees, Scholarships and the Biographies Project.  The Scholarship Committee will work with INL of NA chapters to promote, facilitate, and make recommendations regarding the Government of Iceland’s significant renewable scholarships, one each year for a resident/citizen of Canada and one each year for a resident/citizen of the United States.  Each scholarship includes tuition-remission and a housing allowance for study in Iceland.  The Biographies Project is an ambitious undertaking which seeks to identify and document the personal history of past and present Western Icelanders in a web-accessible biography database in time for the 100th anniversary of the INL of NA in 2019.  Joni and John are compiling a list of our own IAC members, past and present, whose biography should be documented and preserved.   Both are eager to receive recommendations and any background information.        J.H.H.    

There is Talent “in Them Thar Hills,” i.e., talented Icelandic-Americans living and working right here in the Chicago area!

At our most recent combined AGM and Board Meeting, a suggestion was discussed to promote local Icelandic-Americans, members and friends of our Icelandic Association of Chicago, who are artists, musicians, or provide a variety of services living and working in the greater Chicago area by featuring them in a special “Talent-Links” section of our website:  www.IcelandChicago.org

If you are a artist, author, playwright, dancer, poet, or musician; or provide a professional service, or are the proprietor or manager of an enterprise [especially one founded and managed by Icelandic-Americans] and you would like to be featured in a new “Talent-Link” section of our website, please submit your full name, title, and email address and/or website, and a brief narrative.

Your name and your talent, service, or enterprise will be hyper-linked to your preferred email address and/or webpage.  E.g., Agathe Christe  [mystery-writer], Thomas Alva Edison [inventor], Leonardo di Vinci [pioneering engineer and sculptor], Maria Callas [opera singer] will be hyper-linked to a brief description along with the relevant email address and/or webpage for the reader to contact with you..  We know there’s plenty of Icelandic-American talent in the Chicago area.  Please help us help the rest of the world find you!

Please send your requests and suggestions to JohnHaldor@gmail.com

Exciting Icelandic Association of Chicago Scholarship Program & Academic Liaison Milestones:

This summer, in early June and July, respectively, IAC Scholarship awardees, Nicholas Lieber and Krístján Marc Johnson, embark on their adventures in Iceland, supported, in part, by the IAC Scholarship Fund.

Nick, whose grandmother settled in the Icelandic-American immigrant community of Washington Island, just northeast of Door Peninsula in Wisconsin, will be participating in the six-week total Icelandic-immersion program in Iceland designed for young adults from the United States and Canada, sponsored by the Snorri Foundation [www.Snorri.is].  He is a 2011 graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago with a B.A. in Political Science and in the coming autumn will begin a one-year M.A. program in Government, with a specialization in Diplomacy and Conflict studies, at the interdisciplinary Center Herzliya in Herzliya, Israel.  Prior to applying for Snorri, he had travelled for approximately ten days in parts of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark and now looks forward to Snorri to broaden his understanding of Scandinavia, especially his family’s roots in Iceland.  He has also participated in a similar total-immersion program in Israel designed for children of Jewish descent.

In addition to receiving USD $ 750.00 assistance from our program, at the recent [April, 2013] Icelandic National League of North America [www.INLofNA.org] convention in Seattle, it was announced that Nick was one of three Americans of Icelandic descent to receive a USD $ 2,000.00 stipend from the relatively recently-launched Guttormsson Family Foundation [see accompanying article] to participate in this same Snorri Foundation program.  Also, at the above-mentioned recent INL of NA convention, both Stefan Guttormsson, M.D. [founder and principal trustee of the Guttormsson Family Foundation] and Atlí Ásmundsson, the retiring long-time Icelandic diplomat and Consul General in Winnipeg, Manitoba, knew of Nick’s interest in pursuing a career in diplomacy.  Both of them will make a good-faith effort for Nick to meet with members of the ambassadorial and consular corps at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs during his participation in the Snorri program. During that program, Ásta Sól Krístjánsdóttir, the Snorri Project Manager, will post on their website [www.Snorri.is] updates* on the current participants and their adventures, which include two weeks of rigorous education regarding Icelandic history, culture, current events, and language [which Snorri applicants were required to study on-line before coming to Iceland], three weeks living with an Icelandic family, and a one-week adventure tour of Iceland, culminating in a festive graduation ceremony hosted by President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson at Bessastaður, his official residence.  [*If Ásta’s up-dates are in the form of a blog, members and friends of our Association will be notified of the exact link to same.]

Krístján Marc Johnson, the ten-year-old son of IAC members, Marc and Sonja Johnson, received a USD $ 375.00 IAC Scholarship stipend to partially support his participation in an intensive, three-week resident day program of Icelandic language instruction at the Tungumálaskólinn [www.Skoli.eu], Reykjavík.  In addition to visiting with his Amma, long-time IAC member, Áslaug Holm Johnson, Krístján will be very busy this summer conjugating Icelandic verbs, declining Icelandic nouns, and dramatically increasing his Icelandic vocabulary and fluency!

We wish both Nick and Krístján Góða Ferð! [Icelandic for Good Travels!] and look forward to their reports and triumphant return to America after these educational adventures in Iceland.

Later this summer, our website [www.IcelandChicago.org], will be up-dated to include a Scholarship “tab,” which will take the reader to a new page(s) from which to click-on relevant information, including:  A brief history of the program, its Objectives and Guidelines, awardees to-date, acknowledgments of support, current open scholarship opportunities, relevant application forms, a link to inquiries and suggestions, academic institutions with which our Program liases, and additional scholarship resources beyond our program.  Please stay tuned!  Once launched, this enhanced feature will be announced via email to members and friends of the IAC and up-dated periodically.

Further detail will be separately circulated, but please be advised that there are still two more open IAC Scholarship opportunities:  One USD $ 375.00 stipend for Icelandic-language instruction [intended primarily for younger applicants] and up to USD $ 750.00 to partially support relevant Icelandic studies or participation in either the six-week Snorri program for young adults or the two-week Snorri-Plus program for mature adults and retirees, both held in Iceland during the summer.

John H. Hofteig, Chair, The Icelandic Association of Chicago Scholarship Program & Academic Liaison

The Guttormsson Family Foundation:

The relatively recently-launched Guttormsson Family Foundation, founded by Stefan Guttormsson, M.D, and his wife, Rosemary, honors the life and legacy of both his father, Bishop Stefán Thorstein Guttormsson, and his grandfather, the Reverend Guttormur Guttormsson, both of whom having had an abiding interest in preserving Icelandic heritage amongst Western Icelanders, the descendents of Icelanders who immigrated to the United States and Canada, beginning as early as the 1850’s but beginning in earnest in very large numbers in 1875 and the following decades. The younger Pastor Guttormsson served parishes in La Crosse, Wisconsin and other venues and was elected a Bishop in the ELCA [Evangelical Lutheran Church in America].  The elder Pastor Guttormsson served for nearly forty years in the Icelandic Lutheran Synod parishes in and around Minneota, Minnesota, a very important Icelandic-heritage community.

Doctor Guttormsson works very closely with both the Icelandic National League of North America [www.INLofNA.org] and the Snorri Foundaiton [www.Snorri.is] and is quite keen to assist both with bringing young people from Iceland to Icelandic-heritage communities in North America under the auspices of the Snorri-West program and sending Americans of Icelandic descent to Iceland under the auspices of either the six-week Snorri total Icelandic-immersion program for young people or the newer two-week Snorri-Plus program for mature adults and retirees.

The Foundation’s support this summer for our IAC-member, Nicholas Lieber [see accompanying article], is most appreciated and welcome!  The Guttormsson Family Foundation is an IRS-approved 501(c)3 tax-exempt charity and very much welcomes support from Western Icelanders and friends of Iceland who share its abiding interest in preserving Icelandic heritage here in North America.  Inquiries should be directed to Stefan Guttormsson, M.D., Principal Trustee, The Guttormsson Family Foundation, 3715 Greysolon Road, Duluth, MN  55804.