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Awarded each year, this honor seeks to recognize those making a difference in the Nordic community... and beyond.

Scandinavian of the Year is a prestigious award given annually by Nordic Northwest to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to their organization and to the wider Scandinavian community in the Pacific Northwest.

Nordic Northwest invites any Nordic organization in Oregon or Southwest Washington to nominate a person who has made such a contribution during 2023.

Nominations are due November 1, 2023

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Congratulations to Janet Lien Bowler,
our current Scandinavian of the Year!

​Born and raised in a Norwegian community in NE Montana, Janet has served as lead volunteer in several roles in the Astoria Nordic community for over two decades. She was instrumental in the realization of Astoria Nordic Heritage Park and served as grant writer to raise $1.5 million over seven years to complete the park vision. Janet is webmaster for the Nordic Park website, content creator for the Astoria Scandinavian Midsummer Festival website, and creates social media for both the park and the festival. She serves as board member and vice-president of the non-profit Astoria Scandinavian Heritage Association and is entertainer chair for the Midsummer Festival.

The ship runs very smoothly with Janet at the helm.” Says fellow North Coast Band-er Joan Haaland Paddock“.

Nominated by Dr. Joan Haaland Paddock, Professor of Music, with Linfield University


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Nominated by Northwest Danish Association & the NWDA Bookclub

Born in Aabenraa (Denmark), Nils has been on the Northwest Danish Association Board of Directors for more than a decade, leading the Oregon & SW Washington chapter and working tirelessly, to keep Portland Danish culture alive and well.

Nils was on the board of the Museum of Danish America and Nordic Northwest for several years, helped with the furnishing of Nordia House, is working on developing plans for the future of the Nordic Northwest Campus, and collaborated in the effort to enable Danish Americans to acquire dual citizenship.

“Nils works tirelessly and effectively to maintain an active Nordic community in the Portland area,“ says good friend and fellow NWDA member Bodil Strom Muller

In addition to their Nordic community involvement, Nils & his wife Kathy have been very involved with the Portland Art Museum, Planned Parenthood, and the local German American group.

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Nominated by Sons of Norway

Arne has been a part of Norse Hall since before he was born. His Norwegian father and Swedish mother met there and became members of the lodge in the 1930’s. Arne spent his childhood there and has been a dedicated volunteer and member ever since.

He truly is a jack of all trades! Arne has served on the board for the Norse Hall Association for 18 years, helping take care of the nearly 100-year-old building, and every Monday —rain or shine—he rides his bicycle to Norse Hall to take care of the landscaping and trash removal to ensure this treasured landmark keeps looking her best. Once a week he’s available if visitors drop by and want a tour of the hall. You can always find him helping at the Viking Pancake Breakfasts & the annual Lutefisk dinner, and more.

“Arne’s a bit of an unsung hero.” Says Grieg LodgePresident, Gail Hetland.

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Nominated by Finlandia Foundation – Columbia Pacific Chapter (FFCPC)

Ray has been a Fogelbo Forest Troll for several years, showing up every Tuesday to help with tasks from building and repairing structures to weeding, landscaping and more.

He also volunteers for several FFCPC projects, is part of Nordic Northwest’s Kubb committee, and has assisted New Sweden with programs.

He sports his Sami outfit at all festivals and you can find him helping Joulupukki at ScanFair. Ray has been part of the Vappu Celebration preparation, helped with the Lindgren Cabin projects, Nordic Northwest Viking Ship activities and more.

“He is one of the most reliable of the "usual suspects" and has done so consistently for years.” Says Dave Alford, Kubb Committee Co-Chair and fellow Fogelbo Forest Troll. “He adds value to our projects with worthwhile ideas and by rolling up his sleeves.”

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Nominated by Junction City Scandinavian Festival

Debbie is the President of the Scandinavian Cultural Foundation, directs the Skandia Leikarringen folk dance group (you have seen them dance at ScanFair several times), and has been the Program Director Chair for the Junction City Scandinavian Festival Association since 2001 - organizing all performers and entertainment for the annual festival. She has also been involved with the Sons & Daughters of Norway, is a part of the Junction City Light Parade with a Scandinavian float, manages the use of the Scandinavian Hall for other cultural groups, organizes Skandia Leikarringen community performances, taught a year round middle school Scandinavian folk dance group for over two decades, and more.

Outside the Scandinavian community, Debbie has been involved in leading many Vacation Bible Schools (VBS) and Girl Scouts.

“Debbie is always willing to be available if someone is in need. If there is a task, she is first to raise her hand.” Says her good friend Marci Hancock.

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Nominated by Swedish Roots In Oregon (SRIO)

Ann was born in Portland to Swedish parents. A University of Washington alumni, she also studied at Portland State University and at colleges in Sweden, traveled all over Sweden, led Elderhostels to Sweden, an taught Swedish at Portland Community College for 23 years.

Ann Stuller was an integral part in SRIO’s 2019 exhibit “From Sweden to Oregon” at Nordia House, researching and creating the featured families tracing binder, helping with the installation and the creation of an exhibit video.

She is also very active serving as SRIO’s treasurer. Ann co-authored SRIO’s book Swedes in Oregon, designed a logo and PR pieces and book covers, and created lots of content for SRIO’s new website.

Ann took a leading role in establishing a genealogical database for Swedish Oregonians, which, to date, features more than 22,000 Swedish family names.

“Ann is the strong and steady heartbeat of SRIO.” Says Swedish Roots President David A Anderson.

Besides her Nordic community involvement Ann has served on several boards in the community, was a deacon and Stephen Minister/Leader, and a long time treasurer for her P.E.O. chapter.

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Nominated by Little Tivoli Danish Camp

Maren, a school counselor with Danish roots, has been involved with the Nordic community since birth. She is an integral part of Himmelbjerget

Danish Camp success - essential to the proper running of the summer camp, and one of its main fundraisers, the famous Aebleskiver booth right here at ScanFair, for decades. A couple of years ago she co-founded the Little Tivoli Danish Camp, donating a lot of time to get the camp creation for younger campers just right - from developing camp activities & content, and lining up native speakers from Denmark, to recruiting volunteers. She has also been the co-chair of Nordic Northwest’s Fastelavn Carnival festival since 2019 and worked hard on creating pandemic versions of the carnival for the past 2 years.

Besides Nordic community volunteering, Maren has also been very involved with Mt. Tabor Preschool, volunteered with Glencoe PTA and helps with ACCESS.

“She is always willing to collaborate and be a bridge between the Nordic organizations and is just an all-around amazing person. She makes people want to participate in whatever she’s doing, and she’s a born leader.” Says her friend and Little Tivoli Danish Camp co-chair Laura Wilson.


1956: Bob Anderson

1960: Marcus Peter Pihl

1961: Carl M. Saltveit

1962: Malcolm Frykman

1963: Erv Lind

1964: John Virtanen

1965: Bardi Skulason

1966: Boris Sirpo

1967: Lorentz Bruun

1968: E. Dean Anderson

1969: Werner Sahlin

1970: Erik Hauke

1971: Ernest Harold

1972: Christian Elster

1973: Oscar Nastrom

1974: Harold Berentson

1975: Melvin Pihl

1976: G. Bernhard Fedde

1977: Lloyd E. Anderson 

1978: Magnus Esrom

1979: Faye Frykman

1980: Ross Fogelquist

1981: Alpo Tokola

1982: Mary Nastrom

1983: Glen Nordby

1984: Rolv Schillios

1985: Gerda Farestrand

1986: Martha Stenberg

1987: Mel Iverson

1988: Herb Matta

1989: Cathy Bjork

1990: Ellen Jacobson & Maj Persson

1991: Johanna B. Fedde

1992: Saara Slossar

1993: Judy Rust

1994: Lillian Johnson

1995: Robert M. Lee

1996: Carol De Sau

1997: Kaja Voldbaek

1998: Rosi Hill

1999: Elisabeth Mendenhall

2000: Doris & Harry Heiberg

2001: Steinar Fuglestad & Elsie Nordby

2002: Toni Linne & John Nielsen

2003: Christie Stilson

2004: Aase Maja Besson

2005: Doug & Ulla Hanson

2006: Eila Chisholm

2007: Carl & Marian Thompson

2008: Ann Grangaard

2009: Denver James/Kristi Johnson-James

2010: Andy & Margot Toth

2011: Larry West

2012: Clinton Maurice

2013: Pauline Coleman

2015: Judy Gervais Perkiomaki

2016: Sandra Nelson Miller

2017: Dave Alford

2018: Jeff Klein

2019: Christine, Dirk & Pirjo Schulbach

2020: Kirsty Dickinson

2021: Sara Winter

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