The 100th anniversary of VASA Order of America’s Golden Gate District 12 was a truly momentous occasion. The event was celebrated in great style at the District 12 annual convention at the Hilton Garden Inn in Emeryville, California on April 29-May 1. Members gathered to honor Swedish history and culture, and to strengthen the fraternal bonds that bind us.
Official VASA business was conducted with a full agenda of thoughtful resolutions constructed to make our district more amenable to participation by all members. Another key topic was brainstorming for ideas to increase District 12’s membership through higher visibility, appeal and vitality.
The logo for this year’s convention was the rune stone. Our Nordic ancestors raised rune stones to commemorate important events, honor the accomplishments of relatives and remember those who died. At this convention, the lodges of District 12 participated in the celebration by crafting displays that documented their own individual histories and how they’ve changed over the years.

Vasa Golf tournament
Friday afternoon was the customary VASA golf tournament. Tore Kellgren, vice grand master, and members of two District 12 lodges, organized the event and presented prizes to the winning female and male golfers at the Saturday night banquet. Victoria Fedor-Thurman, vice district master (and this year’s incoming district master) was the winning female golfer, and was presented with a special hat and a sleeve of golf balls, as was Ed Netzel, Grand Lodge executive board member and the winning golfer on the men’s side.
Saturday was taken up mostly by official District 12 business, but the night belonged to the festivities! The Saturday night banquet is always a highly-anticipated, well-attended event. All members of all lodges within District 12 are invited to attend, regardless of membership activities at the district level. This year's venue sported beautiful views of the San Francisco Bay on three sides of the room, which was decorated along the perimeter with photo collages chronicling the rise of each local lodge. Along the back wall were grand baskets donated by each lodge.
At every convention, such baskets are prepared by each lodge, donated to the raffle, and tickets are sold so funds can be raised for the next convention. This year the baskets seemed especially packed with fabulous items. One had Gevalia coffees, chocolates, mugs and other goodies; another had bottles of wine, corkscrews, wine glasses and other delicious treats. Yet another was very large and beautifully wrapped with a large red Dalahäst in the center, surrounded with food items. The drawing, always a highlight, was eagerly anticipated.
After a time of socializing and reminiscing with old friends, the members enjoyed a delicious dinner. As the food was served, speeches were made by the master of ceremonies, Ted Olsson, about the past, present and future of VASA. Then the outgoing grand master, Scott Matthews, briefly spoke of how the dedication and love for our organization was apparent in each and every member present. He mentioned the VASA scholarship and how three applications were received this year.

The youth is our future
Our youth, whom we look to for the future of VASA, are civic-minded, placing the good of the community and environment around them high on their list of priorities. The list of their volunteer activities showcased this in the scholarship winners’ profiles.
The District 12 scholarships were awarded to Phillip Richardson from Lindbergh Lodge #494, Karina Koagedal of Linnea Lodge #504, and Rebecca McCombie of Svea Lodge #348.
The judges were unanimous in their selection of Phillip as their first choice. He has outstanding high school grades and has shown creativity and maturity in his volunteer work, identifying needs and addressing them. He has also been an alternate delegate to the District Convention, has volunteered as a science camp counselor, a student tutor and at the Special Olympics.
The judges found Karina and Rebecca so close in qualifications that they both won. Each applicant has excellent grades, has participated as Lucia and in Midsummer celebrations.
Karina’s volunteer work has been extensive, including working in soup kitchens, volunteering at an animal shelter and creek cleanup. She is vice president of an anti-bullying organization and is a leader in a group to prevent teen drug and alcohol use.
Rebecca lived in Sweden until she was seven. She has finished one semester at Chapman University where she is an active sorority member and plans to fulfill more sorority leadership roles. Her volunteer work includes being a science camp counselor and middle school tutor.
After dinner and scholarship announcements, the band “Swing Shift” played everything from Big Band music to more recent love songs, and soon the dance floor was filled. Members old and young enjoyed the good music.
Sunday’s convention activities began with a memorial service to honor members who died during the year. More VASA business was conducted and the new District 12 officers were inducted.

By Ann Marie Richardson