The idea for a Sons of Norway lodge in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan had a direct connection to the restoration of the historic Norwegian Lutheran Church (NLC) in Calumet, MI. Susan Rokicki, Trustee of the Norwegian Lutheran Church Historical Society, (NLCHS) was working on the exterior restoration of the building in the mid-1990's and was looking for grants to help with this endeavor. She made several calls to the Norwegian Information Service, the Norwegian Embassy and a Lutheran Brotherhood Insurance man in the Copper Country of Upper Michigan, Ernest Bylkas. He put her in touch with the Sons of Norway (SON) Headquarters and two 5th District Officers Ray Knutson and Jostein Bakken.
Mr. Knutson expressed the wish to have a lodge formed in the Upper Peninsula. Susan was determined to see what she could do to aid that process. She spoke with Cindy Olson at the SON Headquarters, who put her in touch with Sherry Gorse, the National Membership Director at SON Headquarters. Sherry was invaluable for years as we began our search for Norwegians in the Upper Peninsula. We found a few, had formation meetings and celebrations of the Norwegian holidays. The numbers grew slowly. Susan was relentless, stopping at any house that flew a Norwegian flag, or stepping into conversations when she heard the word "Norway" mentioned.
Another prominent source of encouragement in our formation and development was from Bob and Louise Giles of Huntington Woods, Michigan. Bob was President of the Nordkap Lodge 5-378 in Detroit and Louise (the Norwegian) was also a Lodge officer. The Giles found the Norwegian Lutheran Church in Calumet one summer day in 1997 when Susan Rokicki was painting the exterior siding. She gave them a tour of the church and that began a long and wonderful relationship between the Historical Society’s restoration efforts and the lodge formation. Bob and Louise invited Susan to come to Detroit for their lodge's 75th anniversary as the keynote speaker at their dinner. Bob passed the paint-can after the speech and raised several hundred dollars for the restoration project. He also introduced her to Mr. Jostein Bakken, who she had spoken to many years before. She met many other 5th District officers and members there, who were very encouraging and helpful in finding potential members for forming a new lodge in the Upper Peninsula.
At one of the Lodge formation meetings, the prospective members assembled voted unanimously to name the lodge ‘ULSETH’, after one of the immigrant Norwegian pioneer families in the Copper Country. Edward Ulseth was co-owner of one of the largest building construction firms in this area at the turn of the 19th century. Under the supervision of Nils Ulseth, Edward’s nephew, the NLC was built in 1898 & 1899. Mollie Ulseth, Nils’ daughter, was an organist, Sunday school teacher and one of the last active members of the NLC congregation.
Finally we had 60 people who would be members of a new Lodge and Mr. Knutsons' wish, expressed years before became a reality. In June and August of 2006 we had our Induction and Charter Ceremonies at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Hancock, Michigan. We were now the ULSETH LODGE # 5-670 Sons of Norway. The formal ceremonies were presided over by 5th District President Harland Anderson and his team including 5th District Secretary Mary Bennett, 5th District Treasurer Raymond Knutson, 5th District Publicity Director & our Zone 1 Director Marie Peterson, and Sons of Norway International Director Jostein Bakken. The Team installed the individual Lodge Officers and described their duties and responsibilities in the new Lodge. Gifts presented on behalf of the 5th District included the required ‘set of 3 flags’, a presidents gavel, and a set of Lodge Officers regalia. Other Lodge resentatives included Norrona Lodge #5-027 President, Roy Peterson and Nordkap Lodge #5-378 President, Bob Giles and his wife Louise and her mother Jean Lind.
The Norwegian Lutheran Church in Calumet, which is currently under restoration by the NLCHS, is the designated headquarters and meeting place for the Ulseth Lodge. Upon completion, the basement will be the portion of the church reserved for the lodge meetings and activities.
Charter Officers August 27, 2006
President, Wayne R. Stordahl; Vice President, Richard Imm; Secretary, Kari Hubbard; Treasurer, Sandra Carstens; Membership, Susan Rokicki; Publicity/Web Master, Connie Julien; Hospitality/Greeter, Eileen Stordahl; Sports & Recreation, Rick Oikarinen; Music Director, Susan Rokicki; Tubfrim & Cultural, Nancy Imm; Councilors, Ronda Bogan, Bryan Milde; Social Director, Eileen Stordahl; Auditor, Joe Mihal, Clarence Monette; Youth Director, Susan Rokicki; Foundation Director, Barbara Effinger
Charter Members August 27, 2006
Paul Abrahams, Arne Alanen, Roger & Nancylu Arola, Sari Ashe, Becky Bean, Lynn Bjorkman, Lois Blau, Ronda Bogan, Sandra Carstens, Nels A. Christopherson, Nels S. Christopherson, Carmen Dolson, Donald & Barbara Effinger, Donna Effinger, Karen Fenton, Edwin & Jean Fountain, Allen Goodrich, Andrea Hauge-Bacon, Richard Hoeger, Kari Hubbard, Nancy & Richard Imm, Bruce Johanson, Karen Johnson, Connie Julien, Gerald & Shirley Lamppa, Joseph Mihal, Bryan Milde, Clarence Monette, Bruce Mork, Natalie Nisevich, Erik Nordberg, Gary Nordberg, Teresa Obst, Gregory & Brita Odegard, Lorri & Rick Oikarinen, Robin Oye, Anastasia Rokicki, Shelby Rokicki, Stephen D. Rokicki, Susan Rokicki, Jay Rowe, Karena Schmidt, Jane Sercombe, Frank & Lily Siller, Terry Ann Ivesdal-Smythe, Martha Staresnick, Wayne & Eileen Stordahl, Scott Stordahl, John Ulseth, Margaret Ann Vanek, Helen Patricia Van Pelt, Luella Williams
Charter Heritage Members 15 yrs. & under August 27, 2006
Ian Ashe, Lauren Ashe, Davis Dolson, Olivia Lea, Lars Odegard, Leif Odegard, Tristan Rokicki
The following Lodge Logo was approved at a lodge meeting by an affirmative vote of the 'sign of the Order' at the Sept. 2006 meeting of the newly formed Lodge.