Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Utah - Honorary Iceland Consuls

The role of Icelandic Honorary Consul is to protect and furthering the interests of Iceland and Icelandic nationals as appropriate.

These Utah Honorary Consuls have together helped the Icelandic Association fulfill the mission statement. Which is to: Celebrate and perpetuate the common interest in culture and heritage of Iceland, through activities and continuing education. Promote closer and better relations with the people of Iceland. Preserve the memory of the early Icelandic pioneers who established the first permanent Icelandic settlement in North America at Spanish Fork, Utah.
Since 1987 four Ambassadors from Iceland have visited Utah some more than once. The President of Iceland has visited Utah three times.
Jon Baldvin Hanabalsson in a letter to David Ashby in May of 2001 expressed his memories of the visit to Utah. His words are typical of the many dignitaries from Iceland that have visited the Icelandic settlement in Utah. He said, “We shall always cherish our memories of the time spent with members of the Icelandic Association of Utah, at the lighthouse memorial, the cemetery, the afternoon session we had together and the hospitality as guests in your homes. Your strong feelings for your homeland and heritage, despite the wear and tear of time, humbled us and encouraged at the same time.”

In April of 1987 Thor Leifson son of Juren Victor and Mary Bradford Leifson, was asked by the Embassy of Iceland in Washington D.C. to serve as Honorary Consul for Utah. Thor invited Iceland’s Ambassador, Ingvi Ingvarsson to visit Utah in 1990. This was the first of many Ambassadors from Iceland to visit Spanish Fork, Utah. Ingvi like the ambassadors that have followed was very pleased with his visit to Utah and in particular Spanish Fork. Thor had set up a reception for Ingvi and his wife Holmfiður at the Spanish Fork City offices.
Thor like many of the Western Icelanders in Utah had taken his turn as a member of the Icelandic Association of Utah committee and as president. The Leifson family has always been very supportive of the Icelandic Association in Utah. Following the fine example of his father, J. Victor,
Thor was asked by US officials and the Embassy of Iceland in Washington DC to host dignitaries from Iceland to the Western United States and particularly Utah. After doing this a few times the Icelandic Embassy in Washington DC saw a need to have an Honorary Consul in this area, Thor was the logical choice. Thor served as Honorary Consul until June of 1995 when Clark Thorstenson took his place.

Clark T. Thorstenson son of Staney and Florence Thorstenson was appointed Honorary Consul of Iceland for Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, New Mexico and Colorado in June of 1995. While Consul Clark met with presidents of Iceland on three occasions, hosted Icelandic ambassadors to the United States twice and met with numerous Icelandic visitors to Utah.
Clark was a member of the Scandinavian Scholarship Committee and has been involved with many Scandinavian dignitaries that have visited Utah. Clark has visited Iceland several times. He has been interviewed on Icelandic TV, Radio and by newspaper reports in Iceland. In January of 1997 Clark was appointed as associate director at BYU’s Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies.

J. Brent Haymond was appointed as Honorary Vice Consul when Clark Thorstenson went to Jerusalem in January of 1997. In March of 2001 Clark gracefully resigned as the Honorary Consul and Brent was appointed as Honorary Consul by Ambassador Jon Baldvin Hanabalsson.
Brent is the grandson of Jonea Gudmundsdottir who immigrated to Utah from the Westman Islands with her parents. Brent is married to Janis S. Haymond and they have 10 children made up of his, hers and theirs.

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