Glen Brolander’s Swedish heritage has been an important part of his life. This interest was sparked by his employment at Augustana College, in Rock Island, IL–the oldest of the Swedish-American colleges.
When Glen and his wife, Elaine, were married in November 1959, they realized that all of their ancestors came from Scandinavia—Glen is 100% Swedish, Elaine is 75% Swedish, 25% Norwegian. It was not until 1972 that they were able to identify and visit the exact places of origin of Glen and Elaine’s great grandparents. In that year, they made another important discovery: that one branch of Glen’s family was a branch of the Swedish noble family Uggla. Throughout the years, Glen and Elaine have treasured the relationships that they have developed with family and friends in Sweden.
While at Augustana, Glen’s involvement with Swedish activities grew rapidly. In 1972, he became President of the Augustana Chapter of the American Scandinavian Foundation. The following year, he was named to the Board of Directors of the Swedish-American Historical Society and in 1982 became its Chair.
King Carl XVI Gustav of Sweden visited Augustana College in 1976 and Glen served as Chair of the committee responsible for local arrangements. In 1982, the King and Queen Silvia of Sweden made an official visit to the United States to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Treaty of Amnesty and Commerce between the two countries. Glen was again named Chair of the local committee for the visit.
In 1985, the Augustana Choir made a trip to Sweden. Glen did not go along on this trip, but he did make arrangements for the entire trip, including a private performance for the Royal family at a state dinner. In 1990, the Augustana Choir made another trip to Sweden. Glen and Elaine did accompany the choir on this trip.
1988 marked the 350th anniversary of the New Sweden settlement along the Delaware River. There were special events all over the U.S. Glen was chosen as Chair for planning the visit to Western Illinois and Augustana College.
Glen was elected to the Board of Directors of Swedish Council of America in October 1978. Since that time he and his wife Elaine have attended 59 Board meetings in locations throughout the U.S. He served as Chair of the Board for 3 years and is now Chairman Emeritus. In 1986, he joined the Royal Round Table. Glen and Elaine attended many Round Table meetings in the U.S. and Sweden.
In 1979 on his 50th birthday, Glen was awarded the Order of the North Star. Another special year was 1998 when Glen was named Swedish American of the Year by the VASA Order with three weeks of special experiences in Sweden.
Probably the most important contribution to the Swedish-American community was his work with the Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center. He was primarily responsible for securing the initial gift from Birger Swenson, which made the Center possible. He made contacts with other donors, including the Wallenberg Foundation and family, which were very important in building the physical facilities and endowment of the Center. Glen served as Chair of the Advisory Committee for the Swenson Center from its founding in April 1980 until October 2004, when he resigned and was named Chairman Emeritus.