The Friendly Fifth

History of Lodges

Nor Deka 518

In 1971 George Strand, Fifth District Director from Polar Star Lodge in Aurora, aroused interest in Norwegians in the De Kalb and Lee areas in Illinois, in starting a Sons of Norway lodge. On February 7, 1972 NorDeka Lodge was chartered with 300 members, some transferring from Rockford and Aurora lodges. They elected Howard Grundy as their president.

A Name the Lodge Contest was held, with NorDeka chosen. Since most of the members were from DeKalb area, that should be part of the name, and also include part ofthe name Norwegians ... thus NorDeka. In 1972 many members were from Lee, Illinois but DeKalb continues to have the largest membership.

For many years NorDeka met in the Union Hall on 14th Street in DeKalb, but in recent years has met in the lovely all-purpose room in the Ben Gordon Health Center. There we have Scandinavian atmosphere which makes a good background for Norwegian culture.

NorDeka supports several projects, including the Matching Fund Scholarship program for Fifth District Heritage Camp, and sends one or more young people each year. Several of our members have also attended the Adult Heritage Camp. We continue to interest youth in our annual Syttende Mai Queen and court selection. During the year the queen leads the Pledge of Allegiance at our meetings, and participates in important lodge events.

Another lodge project has been the dressing of an authentic Bunad costumed doll, representing an area of Norway. A raffle ofthe doll is held at an important event, such as the Christmas party or Syttende Mai banquet.

NorDeka has been very active in Fifth District activities, attending officer seminars, Fifth District conventions, and sending several delegates to International Lodge Meetings.

For twelve years one of our members served on the Fifth District Board. As Cultural Director Audrey Soli instigated the idea for a Bunad Show at Fifth District conventions and supervised the two held at Muskegon and LaCrosse.

NorDeka Lodge has held Rosemaling and Norwegian Language classes when teachers have been available, and hope to provide this service for our members in the future.

Projecting into the future, Nor Deka plans to keep interest in Norwegian culture alive by providing programs and speeches for schools and clubs, and by participating in the area's cultural activities.

In 1987 our lodge provided the only "Ethnic Flair" in the Sesquitennial Ball held at Northern Illinois University commemorating 150 years of settlement and growth of De Kalb County history. Marit and J.R. Faivre directed a dance group to depict the early Norwegians who settled here. Several young people, dressed in bunads, performed the dances ...Irene, Carl, and Per Faivre, and Elsie Andreasen.

NorDeka members were privileged to be participants in the "Fox Valley Norwegian-American Sesquitennial" celebration held in both Norway and Ottawa, Illinois. Helping plan were Malvin Erickson, Steven Helfer, Orson Hill and, Rev. Sven Thompson. Audrey Soli was one ofthe contributing editors of the commemorative book.

NorDeka Lodge hopes to continue to be involved in all the Sons of Norway and Ethnic affairs of the area, especially in the 75th anniversary ofthe Fifth District of the International Sons of Norway.

.... Lodge History Committee, Audrey Soli