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Odd Knut Ronning

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Odd Knut Ronning Obituary
Odd Knut Ronning

1918 - 2014 BECKET Odd Knut Ronning, 96, former Export Manager in charge of Foreign Sales at the Beloit Corporation in Dalton, died at his home in Becket last Wednesday. Many knew him as the dashing husband of radio and television comedy writer and actress, Peg Lynch, (he was once voted "New York's Handsomest Husband" by Radio and TV Magazine)--the welcoming, generous host, the ever-so-slightly formal but always jovial man who, to everyone's delight, played the piano and sang old time American standards in Norweigan, who would never let you sit there with an empty glass, the man who listened when you spoke, who stood up when you entered the room, who held doors open for ladies, the man who was at ease in any situation, a well-dressed, polite and perfectly groomed true gentleman, one you'd be grateful and proud to have on your arm, anywhere. I remember all these things about him, but I will also remember him as just plain Daddy. A devoted son, then husband, father and grandfather, uncle and even fourth cousin by marriage---"family" was everything to Odd Knut. We could do no wrong in his eyes. Ever. My father was born on June 6, 1918, in Oslo, Norway, where he attended local schools, often on skis. After a stint working at a paper company in Skotfos, he moved north in 1938 to Trondheim to study mechanical engineering at the Technical University of Norway, where he was the popular head of the Student Council. His studies were interrupted on April 9, 1940, when he awoke to see German soldiers marching down the street -- the beginning of their occupation of Norway which would continue until 1945. He and many of his fellow engineering students were hauled out of bed by the Gestapo and taken to nearby Falstad, a former prison turned concentration camp which was to hold several thousand prisoners of war, Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, political prisoners - anyone the Nazis didn't care for, including an American poker-player and an English lord who had been unlucky enough to find themselves in Norway when the war broke out and for whom Odd Knut, his English being excellent -- his Norwegian father had spent time in North Dakota -- later acted as translator (and I imagine fellow card player). After my father's release from Falstad, due to a combination of his father's petitioning and it being Hitler's birthday, he joined the Norwegian Underground and took part in numerous acts of sabotage, including the destruction of the Nazi-commandeered ferryboat carrying heavy water and components bound for Germany across Lake Tinnsjo. He completed his mechanical engineering degree after the war, secured a student visa, and, in 1946, traveled to New York aboard the liner the S.S. Stavangerfjord, where, before heading up to Syracuse University, he found a phone booth, found a dime, and politely called his third cousin, Peg, to say "hello" at her Gramercy Park apartment, as per his parents' instructions. My mother, frantically busy as usual at her typewriter writing a script at the time, her 15-minute radio comedy series, Ethel and Albert, was on five days a week, grabbed the phone. "Odd Knut from Norway!" she heard, in a thick accent. My father identified himself a few more times before Peg stopped saying "What? Who??," after which he heard her put her hand over the phone and in a (slightly) muffled voice, call out: "Mother? It's some cousin from Norway! Do we have enough lamb chops to ask him for dinner?" My parents were married on Aug. 12, 1948. I doubt that a day went by, since that moment at the Little Church Around the Corner in Manhattan, that my father still couldn't quite believe his good fortune in snaring his "Peggy." A master's degree at the College of Forestry, Pulp and Paper Department from Syracuse University in 1949 was followed by a year in Norway working for the Union Paper Company in Skien, after which Odd joined the E.D. Jones and Sons Company in Dalton (later becoming the Beloit Corporation, Dalton Division) in 1950. By now an American citizen, he and Peg settled first in Bronxville, N.Y., then Stamford, then Fairfield, Conn., before moving to Becket in 1970. Odd Knut officially retired in 1986 and, when he was not studying Consumer Reports or reading Norwegian newspapers or tending his beloved twenty-eight acres, planting, weeding, sweeping pine needles off the drive, he devoted his days to traveling back to Norway, accompanying my mother when she performed at radio and television conventions around the States (the last one as recently as 2012), and visiting me and my family at our home in England. A firm believer in the highly questionable theory that "Vikings don't get sick," it was only in the last six or seven years that my father began to wind down and "indoors in front of CNN" began to have more appeal than tramping up and down pruning the euonymous hedge. He is survived by his wife, his "Marvelous Peggy," one daughter, me, Astrid King, one son-in law, the composer Denis King, and one grandson, Alexander King. All of whom will miss him every day. And who wish his Viking longship safe passage.
Published in The Berkshire Eagle on July 6, 2014
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