Interested in the old, but still young at heart

A professor and innkeeper connects with his heritage through The Norwegian American

John J Henry

Photo courtesy of Jane B. Henry
Professor John J. Henry, lovingly known as “JJ.”

Jane B. Henry
Huntingdon, Pa.

It is a joy to have the connections of The Norwegian American arriving at our home every other week. My husband, John J. Henry, “JJ,” reads it faithfully and enjoys keeping his fluency of the Norwegian language current. The Norwegian literature recommendations often mean an order from book sources to enjoy recommendations, with orders often going to Norway. 

JJ especially enjoyed the Jon Michelet series before the author’s death last year. The dialects were a lot of fun reading, along with the historical fiction.

The Norwegian American also introduced JJ to Professor Odd S. Lovoll’s books, which answered a lot of questions. JJ and Dr. Lovoll now have a connection through exchanging letters and share heritage information. 

Our home is located in Huntingdon, Pa. and is known as “The Thousand Hills,” which prompted JJ’s Norwegian grandparents to settle in Huntingdon. It reminded them of their beautiful country. 

His grandfather, John Royal Wald, came from Farsund, Norway, and was in the last graduating class of Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in 1910 in Christiana before it relocated to Trondheim, Norway. Their American residence was Chicago and Albert Lea, Minn., both strong Norwegian populous heritage domains.

After graduation with mechanical engineering degrees from MIT, JJ moved to Trondheim to earn another post doctorate at NTNU and also taught classes there. Upon returning to the United States, he later became a professor of mechanical engineering for 38 years at Penn State University in State College, Pa.

Inn at Solvang

Photo courtesy of the Inn at Solvang
The Inn at Solvang was originally the family home of John. J. Henry.

JJ is also the proprietor of Inn at Solvang (, in Huntingdon, originally his family home. It is also tribute to JJ’s heritage, with a building on the premises that is the home to many Norwegian items, opened on request to the proprietors or innkeepers. There is a Norwegian stabbur, built like a favorite in Norway. JJ planted new trees and put up an old stabbur, but he is still young at heart.

This article originally appeared in the January 10, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.