Almar Grimsson is a friend to many people all across Iceland, America, and Canada. I am not
He has just left our farm, Óðinssæti, in North Dakota. He has been in North America working as a tour guide. The tour group on this visit is mostly from the Sauðárkrókur Rotary Club and people from Skagafjörður.
One of my great grandfathers, Guðmundur Júlíus Jónasson, immigrated to North Dakota from Sauðárkrókur in 1905. I have a special place in my heart for the Skagafjörður. I gave a presentation to them during my recent stay in Iceland just a few weeks ago. It was great to see them again here in North Dakota. What a great group of people. I gave them cake and cookies. They brought me gifts.
Almar’s generosity and selflessness are admirable qualities that we can all aspire to. He is so dedicated to preserving and promoting the heritage and culture of the Icelandic people here in North America. We are so lucky he shares his enthusiasm and knowledge by bringing others here on these tours. Very few people can say that they have visited almost every single Icelandic settlement in North America – but Almar can – and many of them he has visited frequently. He has visited North Dakota 31 times. WOW! This time, he even brought Karl Jeppesen with him. Karl is making a new documentary on the Icelanders in North America. Here he is taking a shot of the ravine behind our farmhouse.
Another amazing person on this tour is Hjalti Pálsson. He wrote these books about the Skagafjörður and I am so glad to have them in my genealogy library.
Almar has been helping groups come to North America for many years but a wonderful program he made work is the very popular and successful Snorri Programs. Lately, he has been busy leading tours. Almar is married to Anna Björk Guðbjörnsdóttir and we all know that saying, “Behind every successful man is a great woman.” All my love to Anna Björk. I wish that you could have been here, too. I love this photo of them at the Melsted Place east of Mountain, North Dakota.
During his career, Almar worked as a Pharmacist. There is a whole book that could be written on his career and community involvement. One community service project that we in North America participate in is called the Mother’s Fund in Iceland. The Icelandic National League of North America works with member Icelandic clubs and individuals to organize a contribution to the Mother’s Fund Charity (Mæðrastyrksnefnd). Here is an article in English.
Almar is always encouraging me to do more, to learn more, to meet people, to travel to Icelandic communities, to give presentations, and much more. My life has transformed immensely because of his influence. It is not just my life that has changed, though. People say all the time that their lives have changed because of Almar, because of the Snorri Programs, because of the Icelandic National Leagues, because of attending the Icelandic celebrations. They will say that Almar and his work within the Icelandic communities have improved their life. He is changing and shaping the lives of so many people — those that have taken part in the Snorri Programs, those on his tours, those who he meets at church or anywhere. Almar is promoting the connections between Icelanders wherever they live.
A leader is more than a teacher or a boss. Almar leads by example and he is a true friend and mentor to help guide our way and keep the connections alive within the Icelandic communities here in North America and also in Iceland. Thanks to him, I have learned so much and taken chances along the way. I believe that Almar is taking a part in influencing who I am and who I am yet to be. I cannot thank Almar enough for all that he has done. I know there are many of you out there that would like to say thanks to him, too.
Almar always says, “It is about the people to people connection.” He is so right. Almar doesn’t just SAY things. He lives them and he stands by his word. His kindness and compassion are incomparable. Anyone that he meets is soon a friend and I am so glad that I can call Almar and Anna Björk my friends.
Almar, you have shown us by example. You have given us your love and friendship. You have changed our lives. We honor you and thank you. Your continued work to preserve and promote the Icelandic Heritage here in North America and in Iceland is so appreciated. Until next time …… Takk fyrir og Góða ferð (Thank you and good travels).