Reverend Hakon Dagfinn Kvale

May 4, 1933 ~ August 11, 2023 (age 90) 90 Years Old


Håkon Dagfinn Kvale     

May 4,1933 - August 11, 2023

Reverend Håkon Dagfinn Kvale passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family at home in San Anselmo, California. He was 90 years old. Born and raised in Oslo, Norway, Dagfinn developed a strong sense of humanitarian values as a boy and often attended three different Sunday schools in one day. He connected with people and was an outward thinker, determined to see the world. From the age of 12 to18, Dagfinn cycled across Western Europe, Turkey and North Africa during the summer vacations. Years later, he chronicled his adventures in his book Two Kids Biking in Europe. He was a born storyteller and many more publications followed, including books, songs, poems and prayers.

Dagfinn studied theology at the University of Oslo. In 1957 a scholarship brought him to America where he met his future wife Edith, a history student at UC Berkeley. In 1959 they were married in Oslo, where daughters Solveig and Helene were born. Dagfinn was ordained in 1964 and, one year later, the young family moved from Norway to San Anselmo where he took a position as research librarian at the San Francisco Theological Seminary. In 1966 Dagfinn became the Lutheran pastor at the Norwegian Seamen’s Church in San Francisco. He once said, “I stopped working with books and started working with people.”

The Norwegian community found fellowship and a home away from home under Dagfinn’s watch, so much so that he was affectionately known as “the heart of San Francisco.” He and Edith welcomed all visitors to the church with an open smile, a warm handshake and a plate of waffles. He organized sightseeing trips and soccer games for the seamen, driving them around in the famous “Blue Lightning” church bus (originally a school bus). During gatherings, the room would light up whenever Dagfinn played his guitar to sing familiar folk songs or his own ballads based on the characters he met along the way. Following the births of daughters Kirsten (Kiki) and Ingrid, the Kvales moved to their family home in San Anselmo. Dagfinn enjoyed Marin’s proximity to nature and the sea. He loved the wildlife, particularly the birds, as well as the hiking and cycling opportunities. He would often cycle to and from work across the Golden Gate Bridge.

In 1975 Dagfinn and his family moved to London, England where he served as the head pastor at The Norwegian Seamen’s Church for 13 years. During this period, he ran five London Marathons to raise money for the church. As an idealist, he advocated for the first female pastor within the Seamen’s Mission and offered her a position in London. In 1988, Dagfinn and Edith moved to Norway where he was the parish minister at Jeløy Church for six years. In 1994 they returned to the Norwegian Seamen’s Church in San Francisco until 2002. Upon his retirement, Dagfinn served as President of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of Norwegians Worldwide.

Known as a man of integrity, Dagfinn was principled and invested in people. In 1996 King Harald V appointed him as a Knight (First Class) of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit for outstanding service to Norway and its citizens abroad. Håkon Dagfinn Kvale is survived by his wife, his four daughters and his seven grandchildren. His legacy lives on and he will be greatly missed by his family and friends around the world. He will be buried in Valdres, Norway.

A memorial service will be held on December 22, 2023 at 11am at The Norwegians Seamen’s Church, 2454 Hyde Street, San Francisco, CA, 94109. Tel: (415) 775-6566. In lieu of flowers, donations designated in memory of Dagfinn Kvale may be made to The Norwegian Seamen’s Church at the above address.

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24 Hour Viewing
September 1, 2023

4:00 PM


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