By John Orrell, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – There were proclamations, dedications, good friends and loving family gathered at Shrewsbury’s Scandinavian Athletic Club Park (SAC) on April 30 with the club honoring one of its own on what can only be described as a most special day for longtime member and Vice President Reidar (Ray) Pedersen.
Pedersen, who came to America from Norway in 1953, was honored in a celebration for his 64 years with the club with a dedication of the club’s soccer field in his name. The field will be named Reidar Pedersen Field, a fitting act that underscores his love and dedication to the sport he has embraced for so many years.
The dedication, over 200 people in number, included town selectmen and state officials as well as an abundance of family and friends on hand to watch Pedersen receive formal recognition through a proclamation signed by ranking officials of the commonwealth. It was a momentous day and one not soon forgotten by the guest of honor and others.
“I was a little nervous because there were a lot of people here,” admitted Pedersen. “There were sandwiches and a lot of good food and friends. It was a very nice day.”
Pedersen, 89, became an SAC member upon his arrival at age 24 from his native Norway and instantaneously fell in love with the people and all that the club had to offer. But it was his beloved soccer that was the catalyst that set things in motion.
“I was so into soccer,” he said. “In Norway, it was my favorite thing to do. When I got here, the first week my cousin took me here (SAC) and they said ‘we can use you’ and so I started right away my first week. I had to sign up with the club because you had to be a member to play on the soccer team. They signed me up and I started that first day.”
Pedersen went on to compete with the club for 10 years (1953-1963) and all the while immersed himself as a dedicated worker involved in the goings-on of SAC. He would go on to learn English by taking night classes while working full-time. Within a year of his arrival, he was married to his first wife (he has been married twice, both of whom having passed away) and the couple quickly immersed themselves into dancing and were widely recognized for their prowess on the dance floor.
“I work fast,” Pedersen joked about his marriage so soon after his arrival in the U.S.
“I’ve made a lot of friends here. There have been activities and lots to do. The SAC has been wonderful but it’s been sad too because many of my friends have passed away and the numbers of new members have dropped over the years.”
Pedersen’s son, Roy, SAC president concurs.
“Everybody works seven days a week these days. There is no time for clubs anymore. Volunteer time is out the window.
“But it was quite a day for Ray. It was actually an idea I had that we should honor people while they’re still alive. We’re making it a point as there aren’t many old-timers left. People who have put a lot into the club are no longer with us.”
The SAC is available to the public for functions, parties and sporting events. SAC offers a variety of grounds to enjoy including sanded volleyball courts, basketball courts, soccer fields, softball fields and horseshoe pits. For more information visit the club’s website at