Hoover is Sons of Norway's international director
It's been 35 years since Detroit Lakes resident Bob Hoover joined the Sons of Norway fraternal organization.
In that time, he has held the office of president of Detroit Lakes' Vikingland Lodge three times, served as zone director for District 1 for 5½ years, and district counselor for 4 years, and was also elected to serve two 2-year terms as district president.
Shortly after his second term as district president ended on July 1, Hoover was elected to serve a four-year term as international director for District 1.
Hoover said he first joined the Sons of Norway in 1973, four years before an injury suffered in the line of duty forced him to retire from his position with the New Hope Police Department.
He had also served three years with the Fargo Police Department prior to joining the department in New Hope, where he served from 1967-77.
Hoover joined the Sons of Norway in large part due to the fact that the fraternal organization offered a flight program that allowed its members to enjoy chartered flights from Minneapolis to Oslo, Norway, at a "very reasonable" cost.
The chartered flights were offered regularly each year from May through September.
"We made our first trip to Norway in 1974," Hoover said, adding that his wife and three children accompanied him.
His mother-in-law, whose parents were Norwegian immigrants and who spoke the language fluently, was supposed to make the trip with them, but backed out at the last moment.
Despite the lack of a language interpreter, Hoover said, they had little difficulty communicating with the natives after arriving in Norway.
"We didn't have much trouble finding people who could speak English," he said, and the family had a blast exploring the country.
"My youngest son actually celebrated his fourth birthday in Norway," Hoover said.
That son, Doug, now lives in Bemidji, while oldest son Dennis lives near Deadwood, S.D., and daughter Kathleen lives by Tamarac Lake near Pelican Rapids.
Since that first trip to Norway, Hoover has returned three more times, and plans to go back next year. A U.S. Navy veteran, he was born and raised in the Northfield-Faribault area in southern Minnesota.
His family first became residents of Detroit Lakes in 1977, when Bob and his wife Dorothy purchased the Long Bridge Resort, which they continued to operate until it was sold in the fall of 1996.
Bob and Dorothy still reside in Detroit Lakes and continue to be actively involved in the Sons of Norway organization as well as the American Cancer Society.
"My wife and I are both cultural skills presenters for the district," Hoover said of his involvement with Sons of Norway.
They often do presentations in folk dancing, and Dorothy does presentations in rosemaling (a traditional form of Norwegian painting) as well.
Sons of Norway members can earn medals for achievements in various cultural skills areas including genealogy, cooking, hardanger, chip carving and relief carving, as well as sports medals for walking, running, biking and swimming, Hoover explained.
The Sons of Norway Vikingland Lodge includes about 170 members, Hoover said, and they meet on the second Tuesday of each month at Union Central Apartments in Detroit Lakes, starting at 7 p.m.
The Detroit Lakes club is part of District 1, which stretches across 10 states from Minnesota to Texas. There are eight districts within the Sons of Norway, covering the United States, Canada and Norway, and boasting a membership of 60,000 members in 380 local lodges, of which 84 are located in District 1.
As the international director, Hoover will oversee various activities for District 1, including its spring and fall board meetings.
"I will be going to the Twin Cities in November for my indoctrination," said Hoover, at which time he will learn more about exactly what his new position will entail.
"It's a good organization," said Hoover of his reasons for staying with the Sons of Norway for so many years, noting that the organization raises money for various charitable efforts, including academic scholarships and grants for skills workshops and other programs.
The group is also involved in disaster relief.
"During the Minot floods this past year, 39 families got a $1,000 grant from the Sons of Norway Foundation, through its humanitarian fund," said Hoover.
That fund was established in 1997 to assist with cleanup in the aftermath of major flooding in Grand Forks, N.D.
"We (the Sons of Norway) collected over $300,000, which was used to set up the fund," Hoover explained.
He himself was contacted by the Sons of Norway's CEO, who asked him to organize some volunteers to help with the cleanup.
"I took work groups up to Grand Forks on four occasions," he said, adding that he brought a total of about 20 volunteers from the Detroit Lakes area in to help with the distribution of supplies and food.
For more information about the Sons of Norway and the activities of Vikingland Lodge, contact Joe at 218-844-7767.
Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.