Sons members reflect on decades of service

POULSBO — Last Wednesday morning found Fran Jaeger, Mary Spray and Randi Mathisen busy in the Sons of Norway kitchen, preparing for its weekly Kaffe Stua.

With a combined 69 years of service at the Sons, the trio took a break to share some of their favorite memories and the reasons they keep coming back as the lodge prepares to celebrate its 90th birthday Feb. 25.

“I remember when King Olav came to visit and we had at least 300 people upstairs,” Jaeger said. “It was quite the party.”

King Olav V visited Poulsbo in 1975 as part of Norway’s sesquicentennial celebration. FBI agents lined the walls, because they weren’t taking any chances and the king was wearing tennis shoes, she recalled.

“He was a sailor and had been sailing earlier in the day,” she said. “Not many lodges have their new building christened by the king.”

Memories of former Sons President and noted local historian Rangvald Kvelstad still shine brightly as she looks back on almost three decades of membership, Jaeger said.

“I never did learn Norwegian but Mr. K always said it was possible,” she said with a smile, noting that Stan Overby now preaches the same theory Kvelstad did.

As time has passed and Little Norway has grown from a small town to a small city, one thing about the Sons hasn’t changed, Jaeger said.

“It’s a wonderful group of people to work with and we have nice dances and parties,” she said. “It’s a great organization and I really can’t say enough about it.”

For Norwegian native Mathisen, the Sons reaching the pinnacle of its 90th birthday is simply remarkable.

“We have a wonderful relationship here and I’m looking forward to being able to celebrate our 90th,” she said.

The infusion of youth in the Sons’ folk dancing classes is a source of hope and inspiration to its members as well, she said.

“I think it’s very important to have that going, so the next generation will be able to keep going like we are,” Mathisen said.

Poulsbo is still a wonderful little town, even as it has grown up past its downtown core, she said.

“All the wonderful people that come from Norway want to come to Poulsbo,” Mathisen said.

As an Irish lass in a den of Norwegian dames, Mary Spray thanks her husband for getting her involved in the organization.

“We came from Alaska and my husband was Norwegian and I’m Irish, so we joined the Sons,” Spray said. “I’ve been here about 28 years.”

Every holiday whether it be Valentine’s Day or St. Patrick’s Day gives the Sons a reason to throw a party, she recalled.

“We used to have a codfish derby and used to have a great big smorgasbord for Viking Fest,” she said.

As those traditions have come and gone, Spray remains committed to her involvement in the Sons.

“The Sons of Norway has kept me involved and all my friends and family are here,” Spray said. “It’s a wonderful organization.”

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