Nygaard Norway’s oldest man
George Nygaard, was born at Maddock
When his nephew, Duane Tollefson of Minot, asked him if he bought an iPhone. Nygaard replied, “Oh no, better than that. A Samsung.”
At 108, Benson County-born Nygaard, who lives in Roverud, Norway, about 50 miles from Oslo, Norway, has the notoriety of being Norway’s oldest man.
Nygaard’s been receiving media attention on both sides of the ocean for his longevity. When he talked to his uncle a few days ago, Tollefson said his uncle told him National Norwegian TV was there to do a story. “That was pretty exciting,” Nygaard told Tollefson.
Nygaard officially became Norway’s oldest man when he was 107, after the death of another man who held the “title.”
Nygaard, who celebrated his 108th birthday on Jan. 12, was born and grew up on the Nygaard homestead, several miles southwest of Maddock in Benson County. His father, Ivar Nygaard, who grew up in Strommen, Norway, a fishing village, emigrated to the United States in 1894. His mother, Anne, was born in the U.S.
George Nygaard enlisted in World War II and served in the U.S. Navy in the Seabees. He ended up in Seattle where he worked as a carpenter and small house builder.
When he was 60, he and his wife, Adele, decided to move to Norway, where his wife had many relatives, Tollefson said. Adele died and George Nygaard continued to live in their home in Roverud.
“He lived in his own home until he was 101,” Tollefson said. “I remember he was maybe in his 90s when he bought a new snowblower.” He told his nephew he could use it to “make a path to the mailbox.” He also continued to mow his own lawn.
“He read all the time,” Tollefson recalled. “He used to read two books a month until his eyesight failed. He still gets the Bloomberg newsletter, Time magazine and Benson County Farmer.”
Duane and Sharlene Tollefson, Orlan and Rosie Tollefson, all Minot, and Phyllis and Neville Kempkes of Denver area, visited the Nygaards at their home in Roverud in 1984. Duane, Orlan and Phyllis are siblings. Orlan Tollefson died in 2014.
Nygaard visited the Minot area most recently in 1999 and again in 2003.
During his trip to Minot in 1999, he and his local family members visited the Nygaard homestead near Maddock, where he enjoyed talking about the area and the children who grew up there.
When Nygaard was 93 in 2003, he made a trip to Minot to attend Norsk Høstfest. “He enjoyed that,” Duane Tollefson said in quoting his uncle. Nygaard made the comment that: “I think everybody in Norway knows about Hostfest.”
A bout with pneumonia when he was 101 made it time for him to move to a nursing home in Roverud, where he resides.
However, when Nygaard was 103 he flew to Seattle for his granddaughter’s wedding.
Duane and his uncle keep in contact by phone.
When Nygaard was interviewed by a Norwegian publication about his lifestyle and to what he attributes his longevity, he said it’s not true a person has to live healthy to grow old. He said he ate and drank whatever he wanted throughout his entire life. He used to smoke but quit smoking nearly 70 years ago.
“He always has a glass of red wine,” Duane said.
Nygaard told the Norwegian publication the wine thins out the blood but he makes sure he does not drink too much. He did note that he’s always has had a good mood. He said he once had a neighbor “who was always mad and angry, so I do not want it. If so, you’re angry with life too.”