In memoriam, a eulogy in tribute to Arna Pedersen

Arna Pedersen

Photo courtesy of Bjarne Martin Pedersen
Bjarne and Arna Pedersen were married in 1964 and raised three sons together.f

New York

It’s Januarius, the first month of the New Year, 2020. A time to look forward and reminisce about the past year. We are talking about January, of course, first named Januarius for the ancient Roman god, Janus, the god of life’s beginnings and its times of transition. Not surprisingly making New Year’s resolutions springs along from these thoughts, as well.

The coronavirus pandemic that hit us in 2020 still dominates our thoughts and has totally disturbed most traditional events. As a result of these delays and postponements, we did not really celebrate Christmas or New Year’s as usual, nor, before that, Thanksgiving. We have also been unable to pay our respects to those we have lost.

Much admired and beloved, we will remember Arna Pedersen here, who we lost at the end of August. Arna was a selfless, joyful, beautiful person, who was an inspiration to everyone who knew her.

Born and raised in Kvinesdal, Norway, she immigrated at age 16 to the United States in 1957 and lived in Bay Ridge, N.Y., Initially, she worked as an au pair, taking care of three children who, not surprisingly, loved her. Three years later in 1960, she got a position in the Bay Ridge Savings Bank in Brooklyn.

Arna Pedersen

Photo courtesy of Bjarne Martin Pedersen
In 1962, Arna was crowned Miss Norway of Greater New York.

In 1963, very deservedly, she was crowned Miss Norway of Greater New York winning over numerous contestants. She and her attendants were presented in all the New York newspapers of the time, including the Journal American, with her pictured there standing next to then Gov. Hugh Carey. As always, she was very modest about any attention directed toward her.

In time, she met Bjarne Martin Pedersen. They married in 1964, soon moving to New York City in 1965, and they bought a small house in Montauk on Long Island.

Arna and Bjarne Martin raised three sons together, and she fully devoted herself to her family. Bjarne relates that she actually brought up four boys, he being one of them.

She had an encyclopedic knowledge of plants and flowers, and loved to walk in the woods and run. Nature was her sanctuary. Loving animals and the environment, she would always pick up any paper or garbage she found walking in the woods or along the beach.

Arna Pedersen

Photo courtesy of Bjarne Martin Pedersen
Bjarne and Arna Pedersen were married in 1964 and raised three sons together.

Family and many friends could attest she was also a highly accomplished self-taught cook, preparing food with an eye to placing it on the plates with virtual grace.  

As her children grew older, Arna focused more on her career and grew to become the chief financial officer of Graphis, Inc. In inquiring about her as a professional, it became clear, she wanted no title; however, the Graphis accounting firm related that her preparations of financials and IRS forms were better than any of their large corporate clients.  

Her main focus, however, was always on her family, and she worked tirelessly, caring for them and others.

Though beautiful on the outside, Arna was many times more beautiful on the inside caring more for others than herself.

According to Bjarne, her husband, she was the richest person he knew, since she “didn’t need anything.” Once at the elegant Saks Fifth Avenue store, he asked her to try on an Armani dress, in which she looked stunning. She immediately reacted, simply saying she didn’t need it!

She maintained a healthy and active lifestyle until succumbing to stomach cancer on Aug. 29, 2020, at age 79.

Arna leaves behind her husband, three sons, Ford and Bjorn in the United States, and Christopher in Sweden, as well as two grandsons, Viggo, 4, and Axel, 2.

A very special soul and spirit, she will be sorely missed by her family and many who had the privilege of knowing her and calling her friend.

This article originally appeared in the Jan. 29, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Rolf Kristian Stang

Rolf Kristian Stang is an American vocalist, educator, actor, advertising executive, and writer. He has been the beloved Hans Christian Andersen storyteller at NYC's Central Park for over 25 years. He was decorated as a knight with the St. Olav medal by King Harald V of Norway, has been named to the Scandinavian-American Hall of Fame, and was the recipient of the Sons of Norway Leif Eriksson Citation in the millennium year 2000.