“Iceland’s President Speaks to Members,” Ensign, Oct. 1997, 80
Iceland president Olafur Ragnar Grimsson and his wife, Gudrun Katrin Thorbergsdottir, joined Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Young Women general president Janette Hales Beckham as speakers at the Pioneer Heritage Fireside on 27 July in Spanish Fork, Utah, about 50 miles south of Salt Lake City. Spanish Fork has Icelandic ancestry going back to the 1800s, when 80 families immigrated to Utah, making Spanish Fork the oldest Icelandic community in the U.S. Lillian Shepherd, president of the Icelandic Association of Utah, conducted the meeting; Icelandic secretary general and ambassador Kornelius Sigmundsson, and J. Brent Haymond, a member of the Utah House of Representatives and vice consul to Iceland, also spoke.
President Grimsson commemorated the Latter-day Saints who came from Iceland in 1854 to settle the area. He thanked the descendants of those pioneers for keeping their “loyalty to the people who in the previous century endured difficult journeys from the valleys of Iceland to their new homes in Utah.” He went on to “pay tribute to those [early] pioneers and … salute all their families who for so long have been true to the Icelandic tradition.”
Elder Wirthlin joined President Grimsson in honoring the Icelandic Latter-day Saints. Those pioneers were part of thousands who helped establish the Church in Utah and helped Church growth throughout the world, said Elder Wirthlin.
President Beckham, whose Icelandic grandmother lived in Spanish Fork, said, “Our Icelandic ancestors gave us values and strength of character that are so much needed today.”
The fireside was one of many activities President Grimsson and his wife participated in during the week of 23–29 July.