Born in Reykjavík, Almar Grímsson attended Menntaskólinn í Reykjavík (Reykjavík Junior College) before moving to Copenhagen to study at the Royal Danish School of Pharmacy, where he earned a master’s degree. Almar’s diverse career included jobs in pharmacy, government and non-government service, and international work with the World Health Organization.
Almar became interested in connections between Iceland and descendants of Icelandic immigrants in North America almost by accident. His first visit to an Icelandic settlement was instigated by Ernest Stefanson, a Canadian colleague of Icelandic descent who invited Almar and his wife Anna Björk to attend Íslendingadagurinn (the annual Icelandic festival in Gimli, Manitoba) in 1998. This was supposed to be a one-time pilgrimage, but turned out to be a life-changing trip.
This photograph of my wife, Anna Björk, and I was taken at a celebration of my Rotary Club.
Almar co-founded the Snorri Program under the auspices of the Nordic Association of Iceland and the Icelandic National League of Iceland, which was revitalized in 1997 after several years dormant. After the Snorri Program’s tremendously successful start and ensuing great achievements, Almar was elected President of the Icelandic National League of Iceland in 2003, a post he held for eight years. At the same time, he served as Chairman of the Board of the Snorri Foundation until 2011.
In 2002, Almar planned a tour for his Rotary Club to visit the Icelandic settlement in North Dakota for the August the Deuce celebration and Íslendingadagurinn. This was the start of his involvement in planning and managing many tours to Icelandic settlements all over the United States and Canada, an activity he continues to this day.
Almar has been deeply interested in all activities to connect people of Icelandic descent with the “Old Country”. He has a great number of relatives in North America and has been a supporter of the Cousins Across the Ocean project. When Sunna Furstenau formed the nonprofit Icelandic Roots genealogical database, Almar was glad to join the volunteer team.