We want to tell you a story, like no other, because it's about a man, like no other. A story that was written not with a pen or spoken word, but through a life lived as full as its main character wanted. This is a tale of a man always on a mission. Sven Henriksen did not have a middle name. He didn't need one. He started his life born to two young teenagers in Copenhagen, Denmark. He always said his father had to ask the King's permission to marry his mother. He was a man of action even at a young age. As a child he delivered bottled milk by bicycle. After immigrating to the US, he was elected to the student council on his very first day of school without knowing a word of English. Upon meeting his future wife Karen, he said it was love at first sight and told himself he would marry her. He made it his mission. They married after ten months of courtship and remained married for 47 years – mission accomplished.
Sven was a man of integrity and intense courage. When the war in Vietnam began, even before becoming an official citizen, he enlisted and made it his next mission to serve his new country and protect a life he was beginning. He served with the N Company Rangers, 173rd Airborne Brigade in Vietnam. And when his tour of duty was complete, his sights were then set on a family. His first son, Erik Sven, was born in 1972 and with that, it was time for a new mission: a home for his growing family. Sven always put everything into his family's home. Their home on Kristopher Lane, where his daughter Jennifer and son Michael were later born, was a gathering place for friends and extended family, where good food and good stories were shared while sitting on the patio, one of Sven's favorite past-times even until the end. He spent a lot of time coaching Erik's soccer team, with Karen and the young kids sitting on his poncho liner. When his mission turned to living a country life, he moved his family to 24-acres of undeveloped land in the northern part of California. Not surprisingly, Sven built his home from scratch with the help of family and friends using do-it-yourself books he read late into the night. And of course, the house turned out perfectly. He never shied away from hard work. He taught his children if something is worth doing…it is worth doing right the first time. Never give up. On his last hunting trip at the age of 66, he single-handedly shot, quartered and carried his moose out of the mountains. This epic haul nearly killed him but Dad said "no moose is gonna take me down." The courage he displayed facing any challenge was so unwavering that others found the courage to follow him.
One of his greatest and final missions was to create a sanctuary in the country, something he began when they moved to Idaho. He and Karen created a mountaintop haven, a horse ranch where they finished raising their children. His mission after that was to relax and enjoy life to the fullest. They hosted many guests, friends and family, chatting into the twilight hours on the back deck overlooking "God's country". He enjoyed visits from friends and family very much. Storytelling was a favored hobby and he was a fervent storyteller, even if it was the same five stories.
Sven shared his love of soccer with Erik, his love of horses with Jennifer and his love of cars with Michael. He also loved the mountains, whether hunting or just being there. He loved being a Dane, but he was a proud United States Army veteran. He loved his smokes and his coffee. He always said he wanted to be laid to rest in a Folgers coffee can in the Bitterroot Mountains. He would be happy to know that his family will do exactly that, tossing in the pack of Winstons he had to give up.
Sven, the Viking, was called to halls of Valhalla on April 25, 2017, where he will share his battle stories with his ancestors, including how he gave cancer the ass-whooping it deserved. His enormous legacy will be proudly carried by his wife and children, the four grandchildren he adored, and his brother Torben. Of all the things he loved, he loved his family the most.
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