2017 Honored Guests

Grand Marshal
Kurt Ness

Nordic Heritage Museum is building a new home. Community support has been amazing from the start, with over 890 donors making more than 1500 gifts to the campaign. The new, modern 57,000-sq. ft. museum and cultural center will include a refined layout and expanded exhibition and educational spaces. Teams of scholars, architects and designers have been working hard to plan a museum informed by the Nordic spirit. The new museum is organized around a linear “fjord”that weaves together stories of the homeland and Nordic American experience.

Construction is well underway, starting with the formal Groundbreaking celebration in July, 2016, and the March, 2017 celebration of the placement of the highest beam with a Nordic “Topping Off”ceremony. A Grand Opening for this visionary museum will be held in May, 2018.

Total cost of the project is $47 million and to date they have raised over $40 million. There are still funds to be raised. Join this grand group of supporters who are represented by Kurt Ness. Kurt is a member of the Nordic Heritage Museum board of trustees and grandson of Trident Seafoods co-founder, Kaare Ness. Kurt is Director of Sales and Marketing and Co-Owner of Integrated Marine Systems, Inc. The company specializes in designing and manufacturing marine refrigeration equipment for commercial fishing vessels and shore side processing facilities. Prior to his involvement with IMS, Kurt was the Captain of Oregon State University Men’s Soccer Team, where he graduated with honors while being selected to both the PAC-10 All-Academic and All-Athletic teams from 2000-03. Kurt later completed his Master’s degree at Seattle University before serving as European Sales Director for a local marine electronics company. Kurt from an early age proudly immersed himself in his family’s Norwegian heritage; he continues to look for ways in which he can honor this community through education, service and cultural outreach. Kurt resides here in Ballard with his lovely wife and two wonderful children.

Honorary Marshal
Leona Olson

Leona was born on a farm near Monroe to Carl and Milda (Nordlinder) Oman. She attended the University of Washington where she was a member of Theta Epsilon Sorority. Leona enjoyed being a USO volunteer in Seattle and Spokane. After moving to the Midwest, she worked at various jobs including a printing job with a newspaper in Bluffs, Illinois. Upon returning to the Pacific Northwest, she continued in the printing trade, working for the The Seattle Times for 38 years. Leona was the first woman in the U.S. to qualify as a Foto setter operator.

She joined Normanna Sons of Norway Lodge #3 in Everett in 1972, where she met her future husband, Roy Olson. Leona has been a loyal and dedicated member holding several offices and chairmanships at the lodge, including her role leading their pancake breakfasts for the past 24 years. Leona has been a volunteer guide for the Pacific Science Center and has received awards from United Way. She has been a member of Seattle’s 17th of May committee for nearly 20 years, supervising the luncheons. The committee members all wish her a very happy retirement and are pleased to recognize her this year as an Honorary Marshal.

Honorary Marshal
Galen Thomaier and The Last Resort Fire Department

The Last Resort Fire Department officially began in 1969 when a handful of dedicated individuals banded together to form what is now the largest collection of antique motorized fire apparatus in the Pacific Northwest. We are honoring Galen for his many years of service to a well deserving organization. Preserving history is often a thankless act of dedication and perseverance behind the scenes with little or no recognition. Galen is the last remaining member of the founders of the organization. He’s a Ballard resident as well as the overseer of the repair shop, housed here in Ballard. Coincidentally, The Seattle Fire Dept was formed in 1889 the same year Seattle began celebrating the 17th of May.

The “LRFD” is a non-profit, charitable corporation, dedicated to the acquisition, restoration, preservation and display of classic antique motorized fire apparatus. The rigs have been seen in parades, car and truck shows, fire station dedications, fire prevention exhibits and the annual Fire Festival in Pioneer Square.

Galen has been a long time supporter of our Ballard parade endeavors for over 40 years. The Seattle 17th of May Committee takes great pride in honoring Galen and The Last Resort Fire Department.