The wedding of Alfred Larsen and Helen Bell in 1964. Adirondack Daily Enterprise, May 29, 2000 Helen and Alfred Larsen portrait, courtesy of Helen Larsen

Born: November 15, 1913, in Hammerfest, Norway

Died: March 2, 1988, in Saranac Lake

Married: Helen Bell

Alfred Rasin Larson was one of the Norwegian Sailors who cured in Saranac Lake during World War II. On February 13, 1943, Dr. D. M. Brumfiel evaluated Alfred Rasin Larson from the Norwegian Merchant Fleet, who was a motorman, age 30. His address in Saranac Lake was 32 Park Avenue. 1 He was a patient at the Sageman Cottage, where Helen Bell was a tray girl when she was in high school. They became friends, and when Larson recovered and left to resume his career as a merchant seaman after the war, they kept in touch by mail for twenty years. After he retired in 1964, Larson wrote to Helen asking her to come to visit him in Norway. She wrote back suggesting that he should visit Saranac Lake instead. Several months later, in the summer of 1964, without answering her letter, he arrived at her home in Saranac Lake, and within the month, asked her to marry him. On December 26, 1964, they were married in the First United Methodist Church. He made only one more trip to Norway, accompanied by his new wife, when his green card expired the following summer; they were back in two weeks.

They settled on Lake Street, and later moved to Helen's family home at 4 Jenkins Street. Larson worked at Will Rogers Hospital and the Saranac Lake General Hospital. He never owned a car— he loved to walk, and rode a bicycle to and from work. Helen attributed his good health to his many trips up and down Lake Street.

He died here and is buried in Pine Ridge Cemetery with the other Norwegian sailors.


Adirondack Daily Enterprise, March 3, 1988

Alfred R. Larsen

SARANAC LAKE - Alfred R. Larsen, 74, of 4 Jenkins Street, died suddenly Wednesday, March 2, at his home.

He was born Nov. 15, 1913, in Hammerfest, Norway, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Ole Larsen.

Mr. Larsen served in the Norwegian Merchant Marines for 10 years until in 1943 when, in New York City, he was diagnosed as having tuberculosis. He and several hundred of his countrymen were removed from the ship and came to Saranac Lake to cure.

While living here he met Miss Helen Bell. He returned to Norway and his duties with the Merchant Marines in 1945 and for nearly 20 years he and Miss Bell corresponded.

In 1964, he returned to Saranac Lake and on Dec. 26, 1964, he and Miss Bell married. She survives.

Mr. Larsen retired from the Merchant Marines in 1966.

After retiring, he worked as a custodian at the Will Rogers Hospital until 1975, and then was employed by the General Hospital of Saranac Lake. He retired from there in 1985.

Mr. Larsen was a member of the Sons of Norway, the Masonic Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Saranac Lake, and was a member and trustee of the Order of the Eastern Star of Saranac Lake.

He also was a member of the Oriental Temple of the Shrine in Troy and was a volunteer at the Saranac Lake Adult Center.

Survivors, in addition to his wife, include two brothers, Willy and Finn Larsen; one sister, Mrs. Gerd Nilsen; and several nieces and nephews, all of Norway.

Calling hours were scheduled to take place from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. today at the Fortune Funeral Home, with a Masonic service at 7:30 p.m.

Funeral services will be said at 11 a.m. Friday at the funeral home, with the Rev. James Mechem, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, officiating.

Cremation will follow. Burial will be in Pine Ridge Cemetery in May.

Donations in Mr. Larsen's memory may be made to the First Presbyterian Church Building Fund or the Saranac Lake Adult Center in care of the funeral home.


Alfred Larsen of Norway and Gus Nyberg of Saranac Lake at the main memorial to the Norwegian Seamen in 1964. Adirondack Daily Enterprise, December 1, 1964 Adirondack Daily Enterprise, December 1, 1964

A Norwegian Seaman Returns To Visit Graves of War Dead

By BILL MCLAUGHLIN

Alfred Larson (sic) quietly studied the Norwegian grave markers at Pine Ridge cemetery in the little plot reserved for his countrymen near the lower border of the graveyard next to the New York Central tracks.

Some of the stones are set flush with the ground. They have a tendency to disappear under pine needles or blowing sand. His foot scraped away at one of the stones and he bent lower to read the name... Anker Halvorsen. "I knew him, he said.

Alfred is fortunate his name is not included among those on the rectangular stones. He had been a victim of three wartime sinkings as a member of the Norwegian Merchant Marine. His life has always been the sea. He first went aboard a freighter in 1932 as a 19-year-old red-cheeked youngster from Bergen, Norway. He later sailed aboard the Peter Jebsen the j Tries and the Atlantic. Some were cargo ships, some tankers, circling the globe, bound for the various romantic ports of the seven seas. He attained the rank of "Motorman", a good paying job aboard ship.

Alfred liked the life and, even after undergoing the rigors of shipping and sinkings in North Atlantic waters where U-boats plied their deadly trade, he stayed with it to help as best he could in time of national emergency. When his health finally gave out he was sent to Oslo and then routed to Saranac Lake by his government.

There were others . . . some whose names are on those gray marble stones in Pine Ridge . . . Haakon Engh, Torvald Rongved, Hilda Aass . . . seamen and women who had been torpedoed and exposed to the elements and were broken in health as a result. They were sent to Gabriels and Stoneywold . . . to cure cottages in the village and one, at least, to Trudeau San.

Alfred stayed at Mrs. Sageman's on Park Avenue from 1943 to 1945. He eventually recovered sufficiently to return to the sea. Just recently his last assigned ship was sold and he returned to Bergen. He had a strong impulse to visit Saranac Lake again. He is here now and his visit included the sentimental but sad trip to the cemetery to remember those who found death here instead of health.

The names are all there. The little plot has its own Norwegian flag flying on occasion. The monument that beam me memorial inscription is a proud but lonesome beacon of the past.

Alfred, with typical faithfulness to his homeland, hopes that the parcel of ground under the pines will be as well kept as the graves of American dead buried on foreign soil. He would like to see a marble railing of boundary posts set there to keep its identity.

Paul Dupree, the graveyard custodian at Pine Ridge, has made a special effort to keep the distinguished plot neat and attractive in spite of the fact that no funds are available in add individual flags or a special boundary rail.

Sources:

Comments

As of 2013, Mrs. Larson is still living in Saranac Lake.

Footnotes

1. "Report of a Case of Tuberculosis," on file in the Adirondack Collection, Saranac Lake Free Library.