Arne Brekke, 1927-2018
Arne G. Brekke was born in 1927 on a goat farm in Flåm Parish in the municipality of Aurland, Norway. He completed his mandatory schooling and military service in Norway then came to the United States as a student in 1949, enrolling at Luther College, Decorah, Iowa. Brekke entered graduate studies first at the University of Colorado, receiving an M.A. degree in 1952, then at the University of Chicago, earning a Ph.D. in Comparative Germanic and Indo-European Languages in 1962. To finance his studies, he led summer tours in Europe. Brekke joined the Languages Department at the University of North Dakota in 1962, teaching courses in Norwegian and German. He organized a charter flight to Norway for a Sons of Norway Lodge in North Dakota in 1967. His success in this venture ultimately led to the formation of Brekke Tours & Travel, a full service travel agency specializing in heritage tours to Norway. In recognition of his work to foster connections between people with Norwegian ancestry and their homeland, Brekke was awarded the St. Olav Medal from the Norwegian government in 1977. In 2011, he was named Major Benefactor of the Year by the North Dakota Library Association for his work in establishing the bygdebok collection at the University of North Dakota.
Brekke was an expert in the interpretation (etymology) of Norwegian place names. He maintained his interest in language study throughout his life, regularly reading the news in different languages. He was always willing to assist others and enjoyed introducing people to his beautiful homeland of Norway on Brekke-led tours. Arne Brekke, 90, passed away on June 25, 2018, after a brief illness. He is survived by his former wife of 32 years, three daughters and their husbands, a daughter-in-law, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. He is also survived by two sisters, and nieces and nephews in Norway.