When the calendar reads May 17, Kim Nesselquist and his family head down to Ballard to celebrate Norwegian Constitution Day.
This year’s event was more important than ever for the Kenmore resident, who has lived in the area since 1990. At Leif Erikson Sons of Norway Hall in Ballard, Seattle’s Norwegian Consul Nesselquist was named knight, first class to the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit.
His Majesty King Harald V of Norway made the appointment and Consul General Sten Arne Rosnes bestowed the honor upon Nesselquist, 55, for promoting Norwegian-American interests.
“It has pleased His Majesty The King to honor Kim Nesselquist in this way in recognition of his long-standing, able and dedicated service to Norway,” said Rosnes, who was visiting from San Francisco.
Wegger Chr. Strømmen, Norway’s Ambassador to the U.S., nominated Nesselquist for the honor and noted that he has been a “dedicated and generous person” during his career, which has included positions of vice consul of Norway for Washington and Idaho and CEO and executive director of the Norwegian American Foundation. He has also served on the boards of the Norwegian-American Chamber of Commerce, Norse Home retirement community, Western Viking newspaper and the University of Washington Center for Scandinavian Studies.
“I hope I’ve done some good work for Norway in the United States. I’m very honored and thankful for the nomination and, of course, for getting knighted — it’s a rare thing,” Nesselquist said. “I served the king and my country as consul, and to be honored this way on their constitution day… it’s a big day and it’s emotional.”
Nesselquist’s wife, Krystn, said Kim will travel to Norway in the fall to meet with King Harald about his honor. As knight, Kim will continue his Norwegian-United States service as usual.
Kim and Krystn met as students at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma — which was founded by Scandinavian immigrants in 1890. Krystn lived in Norway for six years, learned the language and nowadays communicates daily with people in Norway through her Seattle company Work Wear, which imports industrial clothing for the fishing industry.
Kim, who is currently director of development at PLU, said he’s raised funds for the university and other Norwegian organizations as part of his activities in the Pacific Northwest. He also regularly facilitates Boeing contracts for Norwegian airlines.
Locally and nationally, while CEO of the Norwegian American Foundation, he helped organize about 1,200 events during the 2005 centennial celebration of Norway’s independence from Sweden.
“He puts a lot of effort into everything he does for them. We’re proud of him — he’s a good one,” Krystn said.
Before moving to the U.S. permanently in 1990, in Norway, Kim served as a political adviser for the Conservative Party, served in the mayor’s office in Oslo and on Oslo’s first executive board, and as deputy minister for Health and Social Services. He was also elected twice to the city council in his hometown of Drammen.
The Nesselquists have three children, two of whom speak Norwegian fluently: Elise, a PLU graduate who works at Microsoft; Christian, who just finished his junior year at Inglemoor High; and Per, who lives in Norway and dreams of becoming a mountain climber and skier, Kim said with a laugh.