Swedish American Society History 

      The first meeting of the Swedish American club was held in May of 1977 at the First Lutheran Church in Norfolk.    The precise details have been lost in the mists of time, but some of the people involved in organizing club were Anna Rydingsvard, R.K.T. "Kit" Larson (a Dane who was unable to find enough fellow Danes to begin a Danish- American Club), Marilyn Melendy, Olivia Harlow, Bob and Elva Wilson, Don and Lundquist.   Other early members were Diane Garvin, Mary Haines, and Al Aymer.  At the Jan.1978 meeting a nominating committee was named.    At the Feb.1978 making a slate of officers were elected: President-- Don Lundquist, Vice-President-- Diane Garvin, Secretary-- Marilyn Melendy, and the Treasurer-- Bob Wilson.   The first meetings were held at the First Lutheran Church and in the Norwegian Seamen's center.

      By 1980 there were 36 members and the club was meeting at the civic center on Mona Avenue. The format of the monthly meetings--happy hour, meal, business meeting, and program was established during the time outlook Elva Wilson was president.  Also by 1980 the monthly newsletter was being published and sent to members and friends by Maurtz Nelson, which he continued to do until his death in 1996.

      From time to time, the society participated in the regional ethnic festivities: Heritage Days of both the Neptune Festival in Virginia Beach and the Azalea Festival in Norfolk, and the International Jubilee at old Dominion University.  There are many interesting stories from those events.  But as time went by, those events became more like a commercial enterprise at a carnival, rather than a celebration of the rich heritage of the various ethnic backgrounds
      Do to financial considerations, in April 1990 the society moved from the Mona Avenue location to its present meeting site, the Ruritan club in Kempsville.   Name pins with Swedish American Society imprinted on them and the member's name added were given to each of the members in October of 1983.

       By tradition we now meet 10 times a year (no meetings in July and August) and a pattern has formed.  In January we have Swedish Yellow Pea Soup, and February it is Swedish Pancakes.  May is the month we celebrate the society's anniversary.  June is the time for Midsommerfest and, naturally December is the Lucia Celebration and Jul Smorgasbord.

      There have been many interesting programs over the years.  There have been talks about various aspects of life in Sweden, the colorful history of the club, travel to Sweden, and Swedish humor.  There were lessons in Swedish folk dancing. Slide shows of trips to Sweden, Minnesota, Iceland, and the Drottningholm theater museum has entertained club members at various times.  And, course, music, music, music --provided by the accordions and violins of Murray and Gladys Nelson, and Elva Giordanno; and by the trumpet and clarinet of Steve and Patti Carlson.

      The number of members has gone up and down over the years.  The current membership stands at 73.  At times during the history of the club, is as them difficult to enlist people to serve as officers and committee members.  We still don't have a charter.  But, in spite of the ups and downs, the Swedish American society is alive and well at its 20th anniversary.
source-- Swedish American Society Twentieth Anniversary Membership Book, 1997