Meet Scandinavian of the Year 2012: Paul Busse

Although Paul Busse had not one drop of Scandinavian blood, he was instrumental in preserving, sharing and documenting Scandinavian culture, and for this reason the Scandinavian East Coast Museum has named him Scandinavian of the Year 2012.

Busse was born on October 15, 1939 in Brooklyn. He attended New Utrecht High School. After he graduated he took a job at Banker’s Trust where his time was spent doing complicated data entry on one of the city’s first computers.It was as big as a house.

Busse joined the Army in 1962, a patriotic move made to defend his country in the wake of the Cuban Missile Crisis. During his military service he traveled all over Europe. After returning to the states, he stayed connected to the military by taking a civilian job in the Signal Air Core and also served in the Army reserves for almost 20 years.

Busse’s other interest was in dance. He realized this after attending the Fred Astaire Dance Studio on Flatbush Avenue. His talent was evident and he quickly became a dance teacher and competed in amateur ballroom dance competitions in Atlantic City, New York City and Los Vegas.

Busse was introduced to Norwegian folk dancing through friends he met in a bowling league and they invited him to join the Norwegian Folk Dancing Society of New York, for which he later became the dance leader.

He also worked with and taught the Nansen Lodge Folk Dancers. He loved it so much that he dedicated 40 years of his life to learning and teaching Norwegian folk dance. He and the society traveled all over the tri-state area and as far away as Norway to perform.

Busse was also a very thorough researcher, documenting the history of Norwegian folk dance and how it evolved. He was especially adept at sharing how certain types of dance had connections to other parts of Europe.

In recent years, Busse worked with the Scandinavian East Coast Museum to create the first Virtual Museum component on its website, documenting the Norwegian Folk Dance Society of New York.

For the last two years, he voluntarily taught at the Christ Church After School. The children he taught performed Norwegian folk dances at the After School’s Multicultural Festival and at the SECM’s Viking Fest.

For all of these reasons, SECM honors and thanks Busse for his contributions to the Scandinavian community, by naming him Scandinavian of the Year 2012. The organization’s only regret is that this recognition is being given posthumously.

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