As the years roll by, there are fewer people to impress by mentioning that I knew Stan Boreson. Knew him? Heck, I helped write songs with him for his second Christmas album. Stan was a northwest treasure and a part of so many childhoods of people who grew up in the Seattle area.
He was the grandson of Norwegian immigrants. What is it about Norwegians that they have had such an impact on my life?
I had probably only been to Ballard a handful of times in my life prior to meeting my wife, Victoria. An uber-Norwegian, it quickly became clear that if I wanted to spend any time with her, I would need to join all the clubs and organizations she belonged to, which I did.
I said in the beginning that one of the things I liked so much about the Scandinavian community in Ballard is that it reminded me of the area in South Dakota where my relatives live. A folksy, everybody-knows-everybody kind of place. Growing up in the Los Angeles Fastlane, the concept of slower-paced living appeals to me.
But there’s another Norwegian influence out there that I’m dedicating this column to: a fellow named Leif Eie. You may know him, many have interacted with him over the years, but the more I find out about the things he did, I simply marvel.
I met Leif years ago when I was Larry Nelson’s producer at KOMO Radio. Leif was in charge of SAS–Scandinavian Air Service–that flew in and out of Seattle, taking people all over the world. Leif wisely knew the power of getting a popular personality behind his product and so he would often arrange for Larry and his close friends to go on travel junkets. The boys would get to travel to all kinds of fun destinations, which of course, Larry would talk about with his first-hand experience in their SAS radio commercials.
For four and a half years, I did the early rise as Lar’s producer and we became quite close. I use to love telling him that he was like a great-great-great-uncle to me. That’s also where I first got to know Leif. Now, we’re talking four decades ago, but what I remember most is here is the guy with the Seattle keys to an airline, and he was simply a nice guy. Over the years, we’ve stayed in touch. He sent me a copy of a CD he had recorded. He’d pass along things he thought I’d find funny.
As I became more and more involved with the Seattle Norwegian community in recent years, I met more and more people who had a Leif Eie story to tell. He was the guy that negotiated the lease for the Nordic Heritage Museum with the Seattle School district. He had written some books. He had recorded some songs. He had started a Norwegian dinner 40 years ago that continues to this day at the Normanna Lodge in Everett. He worked with friends like Ozzie Kvithammer and John Hughes in the early development days of Bothell. He was a founder of the Seattle Sister City Association and made our first official relationship happen with Bergen, Norway.
That’s why I so thrilled when I heard Leif finally finished a book on his life story. “Modern Viking: The Traveling Tales of a True Norwegian” just came out this month and you can order it right here. To be honest, I don’t know how it got it all in one book or if this is just going to be the first in a series. In any case, should you ever have the good fortune to meet Mr. Eie, you will never forget him.
I see online that he’s heading towards his 90th birthday next year and you seriously wouldn’t know it. The mind is still so sharp–his wit, the charm, the pleasantries, they’re all there.
I did some digging and even though it’s out of season, here’s one of the great moments in Seattle radio that includes all three of those men I mentioned above and admire so much. It’s from one of Stan’s visits to KOMO around Christmas and we stuck Leif up in the KOMO Air Patrol with Ted Garlatz for the morning.
I’m very proud to say I got to know Stan, Larry and Leif. I’m not saying that in a boastful way, but with appreciation and the realization I know I am very blessed to have had my life path cross theirs. Each has had a long-lasting impact on my life and how I live. Thank you, gentlemen. I am forever grateful.
Yep. I know those guys.