Iver M.Kalnes, the grandfather of Ron Larson was deeply involved in the movement initiated by Rasmus B Anderson to recognize October 9 as Leif Erikson Day. This day was to honor Leif Erikson, as the true founder of America, not Columbus. Rasmus B Anderson born in 1848 in Albion, Dane County to Norwegian immigrants. He was a graduate of Luther College in Iowa and the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he was the founding head of the Department of Scandinavian Studies. In 1874 he authored the book America Not Discovered by Columbus. The focus of the book was that the idea that Vikings were the first Europeans in the New World and specifically that Leif founded America. The world-famous concert violinist Ole Bull lived in Madison during this time and gave Rasmus most of his concert earnings to buy books for the newly founded department at the university and to help promote this cause. Iver Kalnes was a newspaperman who got to know Rasmus as a fellow-Norwegian and became involved closely with Professor Anderson in the final years leading to the Leif Erikson Day law passing the Wisconsin legislature in 1929. Our speaker, Ron Larson graduated from Luther College in 1976, majoring in history and received his MLS from the UW School of Library and Information Studies in 1978. He was the library director and researcher for the Wisconsin State Journal and Capital Times from 1978-2008, and then the newspaper and periodicals librarian for the Wisconsin Historical Society from 2009 until his retirement in 2017. Throughout his career Ron has written several books, including a collaboration of his grandfather’s newspaper columns titled Little Visits with a Journal Reporter. Ron continues to work with the WHS, currently serving on the Wisconsin Historical Society’s National Digital Newspaper Program selection committee. He is also currently a volunteer at Livsreise. A McFarland native and local historian, Ron served on the McFarland Historical Societies Board of Directors for 15 years, including nine years as president. Ron has been married to his wife, DeAnn, for 38 years. They have 3 sons, Karl 35, Brooklyn, NY; Lars-Erik, 32, St. Paul, MN; and Leif, 27, Brooklyn, NY. Ron and DeAnn continue to call McFarland home.
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