Cover photo for Harold Halvorsen's Obituary
Harold Halvorsen Profile Photo

Harold Halvorsen

Harold “Hal” Halvorsen, who died at 89 on June 29, 2020, was many things to many people.

First and foremost, he was a devoted husband to Norita, his wife of 56 years; a loving father to Erik, Kirsten (Vogeley), and Karina (Wright); a supportive father-in-law to Julie, John, and Doug; and an exceedingly proud grandfather of seven (Haley, Jane, William, Abigail, Caroline, Aidan, and Anna).

Hal was a first-generation Norwegian-American; a Marine (once a Marine, always a Marine); a Pratt Institute alumnus (Mechanical Engineering, 1958); an aerospace professional (retired from Grumman Corp in 1995); a self-taught artist (painter of seascapes, landscapes, and abandoned farmhouses); a quick wit; a car connoisseur; a driving instructor (to his wife and kids); a storyteller; a cancer survivor; a loyal friend; a mentor; a traveler; a worry wart slayer, and the list goes on.

Born December 10, 1930, in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, Hal was the only child of Olaf and Dagny Halvorsen. The family returned to Norway when the Great Depression wiped out their construction business. Hal grew up in and around Farsund in southern Norway, including during the German occupation of the country during WWII. He returned to Bay Ridge in 1949 with seven dollars in his pocket.

Hal worked in the engine room of several ships and towing vessels in NY while taking correspondence courses. He was later drafted into the U.S. Marine Corps during the Korean War and served in Marine Intelligence from 1951 to 1959. He was discharged as a corporal.

A Brooklyn police officer gestured toward Clinton Hill, the Pratt Institute campus, when Hal asked him where he could study science and math, with the help of the GI Bill. Post-graduation, Hal worked at Fairchild Engine Division and Dayton T. Brown as a test engineer. He later joined Grumman Aerospace Corp in Bethpage, Long Island, where he enjoyed a rewarding 34-year career. He created and served as section head of specifications and retired as a systems engineering manager.

On a rainy night in 1963, Hal went to a dance at the Garden City Hotel. He spotted Norita across the room and asked her to dance. She’d recently studied public health at the University of Oslo and noted Hal’s accent. She asked if he was from Norway. It was like pulling teeth, Norita said, but it came out that a town she remembered well–Flekkefjord–was where Hal’s father had built all the soccer fields. They were married on June 6,1964.

Hal and Norita, a former professor of nursing, raised their family in Huntington, NY, and lived there for more than 50 years. In retirement, Hal painted (thanks to Norita’s encouragement), had several solo art shows, enjoyed countless meals and cups of coffee with friends, and traveled far and wide with Norita, often visiting their children and grandchildren in Maryland, Virginia, and California. In 2016, he and Norita moved to Greenspring Village in Springfield, Va., to be near family.

Hal died peacefully in his sleep.

The last lyrics of The Marines’ Hymn are fitting:
If the Army and the Navy
Ever look on Heaven’s scenes,
They will find the streets are guarded
By United States Marines.

Semper Fi, Hal, Dad, Bestefar. You’ll be missed by many.

The family will hold a memorial for Hal in the spring of 2021 (details to be determined). In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the American Heart Association, Capital Caring Health (Hospice), or the Rockport Art Association, Rockport, Mass.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Harold Halvorsen, please visit our flower store.


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