Lili – January 21, 2019

Every month I receive my copy of The Danish Pioneer and faithfully read about the many wonderful events, organizations and people that are all things Danish in this decades-old publication, published in print and online. My friend “Farfar” at The Danish Home told me that The Pioneer received The Danish Home’s annual Essence Award some years back. So I asked Farfar, who knows all about The Danish Home and just about everything Danish, “What is the Essence Award?”

“The Essence Award was created to honor a person, people or organization that preserves the legacy of the Danish community through their commitment to The Danish Home and its residents,” he said. “This past year, Peter Orum and his family received the award.”

In a very old photo, several pose in front of a building labeled "Danske Pioneer"

The Danish Pioneer employees and building in its early days.

The Pioneer’s editor, Linda Steffensen, is often afoot at The Danish Home. One day, she told me that The Pioneer dates back to 1872 (claiming the title of oldest Danish community newspaper in North America) and was first published in Omaha, Nebraska. She was kind enough to answer my questions about the history of the newspaper and also tell me about her extensive involvement in the Danish-American community.

Apparently, The Pioneer moved to the Chicago area in 1958 and was then published by the Bertelsen family. Chris Steffensen, Linda’s father, and his family became involved with the historic newspaper in 1982. Chris was born in Vinderup, Denmark, and was knighted by Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II of Denmark for his outstanding service to the Danish-American community. Today, the parent company of The Pioneer is owned and managed by the Steffensen family.

The Steffensen family (Linda and her late father, Chris, are pictured here) have deep roots in Danish-America and the 147-year-old publication, The Danish Pioneer.

Linda has followed in her father’s footsteps as a champion of the Danish-American community.  Like him, she has served on the national board of the Danish Immigrant Museum and the Rebild National Park Society.  But Linda has several more organizations on her roster of benevolent causes, including The Danish Home itself, the Dania Ladies Society, the Danish Old Settlers, Scandinavian Park, the Midwest Danish American Chamber of Commerce, the Danish American Athletic Club, Danish Brotherhood Lodge #35, Danish Sisterhood Dagmar Lodge #4 and The Danish Home’s Women’s Auxiliary. Like her father, Linda also received the high honor of being named “Mayor for a Day” in Aalborg, Denmark.

Elsa and Elizabeth Steffensen also hold important positions at the Danish Pioneer as well as offices in many Danish organizations. The family launched a vibrant new website for the newspaper, www.thedanishpioneer.com. They are continually working to celebrate and preserve Danish culture and heritage. Currently, Linda is very involved with The Danish Home’s capital campaign to raise funds for building improvements, charitable care and enhanced programming.

This year’s annual benefit on September 21 will most assuredly recognize another deserving recipient who’s dedicated time, effort and resources to the Danish Home. I am looking forward to attending with my husband Brad and, hopefully, my two daughters.

In the meantime, I will continue to read The Danish Pioneer and also work on planning a family trip to Seattle, where Linda tells me a new Nordic museum has opened. Stay tuned for more about that here in The Hope Chest!