The History of Polar Star 472
A charter member, George Strand, was the driving force in getting a Sons of Norway organized in Aurora. He and H. B. Johnson searched out likely members in the Norwegian churches and any group they could find.
On November 21, 1961, Polar Star Lodge was chartered at the Y.M.C.A. with the assistance of the Chicago Drill Team, with Fifth District President Clarence Marzolf presiding.
The daughter of H. B. Johnson, Betty Anderson has been president, and for many years leading up to the present has been the financial secretary. Another charter member, Myrtle Francis now serves as treasurer.
In November of 1986 the lodge celebrated its 25th anniversary, with Fifth District Vice President Clare Almquist as speaker. The charter members attending this event were:
Betty Lou Anderson, Ervie Anderson, Anita Anfinsen, Mabel Eriksen, Myrtle Francis, Kari Kalsto, Alma Kissel, Blanche Knudsen, Jesse Ronning, Lois Ronning, Liv Thomseth, and Blanche Weber.
The Lodge first met at the local Savings and Loan, then a bank, and for many years at the Aurora Masonic Temple, at 2 p.m. on the first Sunday of the month.
July and August meetings are lodge picnics. In November, of 1988 we started to meet at Saint Olaf Lutheran Church with improved facilities.
Over the years our most successful money raiser has been our fish dinner where we serve between seven and eight hundred people. Then in 1987 we tried something new and rented a table at the county fair to help acquaint people with Sons of Norway and to recruit new members.
All those who signed as being interested were hosted to a dinner. We plan this to be an annual event.
.... Orrin Toftoy
updated June 2009
While charter member George Strand was the driving force in getting Polar Star Lodge started Ervie Anderson and the Anderson family was a driving force in the continued development and growth of the Lodge. Many Board Meetings and Lodge Meetings were held at the Anderson farm. Ervie served as president along the way and has been characterized as a driving president. Son Jeff and daughter Karen have kept the family membership going and have been much involved in the approximate 47 consecutive Torske Dinners
Over the years cooking utensils, dishes, gas burners, a cabbage grinding machine, a tent and garbage cans along with other items and supplies were accumulated for the Torske Dinners. These are still kept in the Anderson garage and were hauled to and from the Torske Dinner site by Karen Anderson in her truck.
The Torske dinners provided great comraderie as members gathered to peel 300 pounds of potatoes, to cut up 500 lbs of fish, to cut up and grind three dozen or more heads of cabbage for coleslaw, to set up and serve the tables, to wash and dry dishes for 500 to 700 meals and to take care of all other miscellaneous tasks. According to the folks who consumed those thousands of fish dinners it was worth it. One lady stated she was there for the 31st consecutive year. Another person would come from Iowa.
However in recent years the volunteers became older and fewer and after the 2008 dinner it was regretfully made not to continue.
In 2009 the new fund raiser was a Benefit Dinner and a Silent Auction held at the Long Island Sound Banquet Center in Aurora. This event was made special by the presence and participation of International President Dan Rude. The funds raised surpassed the funds from the final Torske Dinner. The day also provided an opportunity for President Rude to meet with 30 officers from the Zone Five Lodges in the Chicago area.
Lois Ronning is the only current member remaining from the original charter group meeting November 21, 1961. Floyd Anderson (05-01-1962); Alfred H. Sundfor (06-02-1963) and Robert N. Ronning (08-01-1968) are the remaining active members from the 60s. George Strand was credited with starting lodges in Aurora, DeKalb and Ottawa.
Myrtle Francis Thompson served as Treasurer for 32 years.
At the Lodge meeting of March 4, 1962 a vote was taken to choose a name. The two choices were Cleng Peerson and Polar Star.
The Lodge possesses a Sons of Norway Membership Roster listing members in chronological order of membership from the Charter Meeting through 1992. It will be updated by utilizing available membership lists and arranging in order of effective dates of membership.
The Lodge began recording their meetings in 1972. The year of most members was 1973 at 223 members. In 1972 the District Convention was referred to as the Supreme Convention. Polar Star was allowed 5 delegates.
Recording of Guests was begun in 1980. Door Prizes were awarded at meetings for a number of years. For some years Polar Star Lodge paid $10.00 of each new member fee and $10.00 to the person signing up the new member.
The largest attendance at any meeting was the December Christmas meeting of 1981 with 74 members and 59 guests for a total of 133. For a few years Polar Star volunteers rang bells for the Salvation Army in Aurora. In 1978 an organ was purchased to accompany singing. A few years later the organ disappeared and was never
In early years a letter was received from the Beacon News Newspaper stating they would like to hear about club news to include in the paper. They would even come and take pictures. The Lodge made good use of this and has an album of newspaper clippings announcing events and reporting them.
Corn Boils have been a popular annual event with Ralph Ervin, a long time farmer, always providing the corn and acclaimed by all to be the best tasting corn available. Ralph celebrated his 90th birthday in 2006 with 300 guests at his party.
Formal Syttende Mai Banquets were held at the Masonic Temple in Aurora from 1963 through 1986. Programs have included Norwegian Bingo, Penny Socials, a Dog Show,a Dog Obedience Training demonstration, Show and Tell. Folk Dancing and a booth at the Sandwich Fair. Trips have been made to Branson, Lake Geneva, Door County and Stoughton. In 1985 35 members attended Nordic Fest in Decorah.
The Norway Center or Norway Museum was established by Cleng Peerson Lodge in Norway, Illinois. Financial participation and support was given by Polar Star. Through the years Polar Star has contributed cookies to the Barnebirke and supported Ski For Light. In 1993 the Lodge gave $500.00 to a local Boy Scout Troop toward the purchase of a trailer to house and haul camping equipment.
In 1993 Polar Star was changed from Sub District #2 to Sub District #5. Lodges in Sub District #5 were Polar Star #472 Aurora, Nor-Deka #518 DeKalb, Cleng Peerson #525 Ottawa and Valhall #168 Rockford.
An item in the September 1994 meeting minutes noted, The Danes are very happy with the merger of their Brotherhood and the Sons of Norway and the general consensus is that it will be an advantage to both.
In 1995 members agreed Polar Star needed a Sister Lodge and Cleng Peerson was chosen.
Polar Star campers at Masse Moro Heritage Camp have included Christy Beck, Beth Anderson and Travis Anderson. Travis attended several at Masse Moro and attended a Language Camp in Norway. Bailey Danielson is attending Masse Moro in 2009.
Polar Star Website was established in November of 2006. Michael Lund is Webmaster. Michael is also Editor of the Lodge Newsletter since it expanded to eight pages. He is a commercial pilot and does much of his editing on layovers.
In 2007 an anonymous pledge was made to the Save the Viking Ship project in the name of Polar Star Lodge to match funds collected from the Lodge up to the amount of $500.00. Polar Star members contributed $925.00. The Lodge voted to contribute the $75.00 needed to bring their total matching funds up to $1000.00. A total of $1500.00 was donated to help save the Viking Ship.
Currently we have 130 members. There are a number of 3 generation families and one 4 generation family. That family has 16 members in the lodge and should have 18 by October. Kari Schussler, Ray Nilsen and Michael Lund are natives of Norway.