Jerry Rosholt at the Decorah gave of a Civil War solder.
Jerry Rosholt at the Decorah gave of a Civil War solder.
Decorah resident Jerry Rosholt is receiving a royal honor.

In recognition of his volunteer Civil War research at Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, Rosholt has been awarded the St. Olav Medal by His Royal Highness King Harald V of Norway.

Rosholt received a letter Monday from Rolf Hansen of Minneapolis, consul general for the government of Norway.

The letter reads, "His Royal Highness King Harald V has awarded you the St. Olav Medal in recognition of your great services to Norway, in particular your active involvement with the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum on its Civil War project."

Rosholt, 83, said he was both surprised and flattered by the honor.

"I'm very proud of it, but it totally came out of the blue. I would say it's the most important thing that's happened in my life since the birth of my three sons," said Rosholt.

According to the office of the Royal Norwegian Consulate General, between two and six medals are awarded worldwide each year.

Rosholt was born in Montana and grew up in Western Minnesota. He first came to Decorah in 1941 to attend Luther College.

"My father had graduated from Luther, as had my grandfather. My great-grandfather, Tore Peterson Skotland, was one of Luther's founders," said Rosholt.

Rolsholt graduated from Luther in 1948 with a degree in mathematics. After graduation, he worked for KDEC in Decorah before moving to Minneapolis. In 1960, he moved to the East Coast where he worked for NBC's Huntley-Brinckley report until he retired in 1988.

While at NBC, he wrote for Chet Huntley and John Chancellor, and worked as a field producer for NBC's coverage of the Indian-Pakistan War, the U.S. - U.S.S.R. Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT), the Sadat-Begin Peace Talks, several Civil Rights demonstrations, anti-Vietnam War protests and national political conventions from 1964 to 1986.

Following the death of his wife, Carolyn (who he met at Luther), Rosholt moved back to Decorah. Since 1995 he has been volunteering at Vesterheim researching Norwegian Civil War veterans. In 2003, he published "Ole Goes to War: Men from Norway Who Fought in America's Civil War.

"I've been working on this project every day for 10 years," said Rosholt.

"It's what gets me out of bed each morning."

Rosholt added, "None of this would have happened if it weren't for Vesterheim and Janet Blohm Pulz. I think it's as much Vesterheim's award as it is mine."

In the letter from Hansen, the consul general offers to organize a social event for Rosholt to honor him with the medal. Rosholt said he is working with Blohm Pultz to come up with a date for the event that will work for both Vesterheim and Hansen.

"We are pleased that Jerry is being honored by the Norwegian government with the St. Olav Medal. He has been a tireless Vesterheim volunteer and has contributed so much to the study of Norwegian-Americans in the Civil War, among many other things," said Blohm Poltz.