News Release

John A. Widtsoe Statue Unveiled in Frøya, Norway

A statue commemorating John A. Widtsoe (1872-1952), a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1921 until his death in 1952, was unveiled in Frøya, Norway on June 17, 2017. In attendance were Elder Paul V. Johnson of the Europe Area Presidency and his wife Jill. Descendants of John Widtsoe, over 100 guests from the US and notable government officials, community leaders, writers and academics were included in the group of more than 180 persons who gathered to honor John Widtsoe.

In noting the importance of John Widtsoe’s life, President Paul V. Johnson of the Europe Area Presidency said: “He was a remarkable man, an academic, an author, and a beloved apostle of the Church. We are honored to be a part of this commemoration.”

The event was organized by the Historical Society of Frøya (Frøya historielag) to honor the contributions made by John Widtsoe throughout his life. Gustav Witzøe, a descendant of John Widtsoe, hosted the event; he is the co-founder and majority owner of SalMar ASA.

The 3-day event began on Friday, June 16 with sightseeing and a boat tour of the SalMar salmon fish farms.

The unveiling of the statue took place at noon on June 17 with Mayor Berit Flåmo of Froya presiding. The statue was sculpted by Dennis Smith in conjunction with the Main Street Gallery of Alpine, Utah. The statue is a gift from the Frøya Historical Society to the County Council with the hope that it will act as a reminder and motivation to youth of the importance of receiving education beyond high school. A memorial concert and dinner at Hotel Frøya followed the unveiling ceremony.

A meeting was held on Sunday, June 18 at hotel Frøya, where the President of the Blue Center of Competence at Frøya met with leaders from the University of Utah, BYU and Utah State University to discuss the possibility of an exchange student program between NTNU and the US universities and a John A. Widtsoe scholarship program.

Berit Flåmo , Mayor of Frøya Municipality, said: “We are proud to have the statue of John A. Widtsoe here at Frøya, and my hope is that the statue will be an inspiration to the people of Frøya. We need new research and development within aquaculture and our hope is that John A. Widtsoe’s academic example will inspire the youth of Frøya to continue higher education.”

John A. Widtsoe emigrated from Norway with his widowed mother and brother in 1883 to Logan, Utah. He graduated from BYU in 1891 and from Harvard University in 1894. He received a Ph.D. from the University of Göttingen, Germany and became an international authority on agricultural chemistry in harsh climates. He was also a recognized authority on irrigation and dry farming. John Widtsoe was active in academics, serving as president of Utah Agricultural College from 1907-1916 and President of the University of Utah from 1916 until 1921 when he was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He served as President of the European Mission from 1926 to 1932. He was an accomplished author of both non-religious and theological works, and two autobiographies.

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