The Fritz Cornell Nordic Hall, completed in June 2013, was made possible through the financial generosity of Nordic Lodge member Fritz Cornell, who died of Leukemia on December 16, 2008.
Fritz was born September 20, 1927 in Norway and was the oldest of three children. His father was a barber and his mother worked as a part-time beautician in the barber shop. During WWII and the German occupation, the family had to leave behind their home in the city (and most of their belongings) and move to their cabin in the country. After the war (in 1947), Fritz emigrated to the United States with his mother and siblings and it was upon entry into their new country that their surname became Cornell – a shortening of the Norwegian surname Kornelivessens. The only two English words Fritz knew upon arriving in America were “yes” and “no”.
Fritz and his family first lived in Racine, Wisconsin – where Fritz worked for the John Oster Manufacturing Co. They moved to the Seattle area in 1958. Fritz had been invited by his sister’s husband to investigate employment at Boeing and once here they decided to stay because the area reminded them of Norway. He bought a house in Bellevue with his mother and also a cabin on Guemes Island. While working he spent weekends at the vacation cabin and when he retired, he moved to Guemes full-time. Fritz also served in both the Army and the Air Force.
Fritz enjoyed good, hard outdoor work. He took a serious commitment to this health and his regimen of hiking and working outdoors kept him strong and young-looking. Some years he hiked 1500 miles! As a member of the Whidbey Island Nordic Lodge, he served as Sports Director and himself earned many Sports Medals.
Fritz was extremely proud of his Norwegian roots, and the Whidbey Island Nordic Lodge is honored to dedicate their new home to this man who made it possible.