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Don Arthur Torgersen

Don Torgersen is a native American of Norwegian, Swedish, French and German descent. He was born September 27, 1934 at Ravenswood Hospital in Chicago, the firstborn son of Arthur Arvid Torgersen and Bernice (Malstrom) Torgersen, and raised with his younger brother and sister, Judy and Jerry, twins. His grandparents, parents, and relatives lived on the northwest side of the city in the Cragin-Belmont-Hermosa neighborhoods. He grew up near Walt Disneyís family home, now a museum. thewaltdisneybirthplace.org

On his fatherís side, Don descends from a long line of blue-eyed Norwegians who used the name Torger, or Torgersen (Torgerís son). It is an Old Norse Viking name that means Thorís spear (Thorrgeirr), a swift spear that always meets its mark, but Don is called Torgy by his buddies and teammates. His family encouraged initiative, ingenuity, self reliance, reading, knowledge, athletics, music, craftsmanship, and civic responsibility.

His grandparents, Tollef Torgersen and Agnes Pedersen, emigrated from Egersund, Norway, on the southwest coast, and were married in Chicago. On his motherís side, his great grandparents came from Sweden and Germany. Great grandfather Axel Oscar Malstrom came from Gothenburg, Sweden, and his great grandmother Alma Petrini came to Chicago from Falun, Sweden. The Gaertners and the Sponemanns, great grandparents from Prussia and Bavaria, settled in the St. Louis, East St. Louis area.

Recent DNA analyses show that all of Donís family for the past seven generations came from northwestern Europe. Don is 62.4% Scandinavian (Norwegian, Swedish, Danish), 13.2% French and German (Netherlands, Alsace Lorraine, and northern Germany) and 7.4% British and Scots Irish (Celtic-Saxon-Viking). A surprising 1% is Ukrainian, perhaps stemming from the Kievan Rus Viking and Slavic era.

Don graduated from Henry D. Lloyd Elementary and Kelvyn Park High School in Chicago and appreciates his former classmates and teachers. In high school, he competed in swimming, baseball, and track, played trumpet, was a writer and editor on the school newspaper, helped to form the Orions, a social athletic club, with Worthley Burbank, Dick Baker, Roy Maltese, Keith and Ronny Brigham, Clark Weimer, John Saybe, Ron Beisler, and others, He was voted most popular guy in his class with Barbara Bluege most popular gal. He attended Medill Lutheran Church and was active in Boy Scouts and choir: basketball and softball in the Lutheran Athletic League. He competed at the Irving Park YMCA in swimming, boxing and handball.

During the Korean War, Don enlisted in the U.S. Navy at the age of 17 with high school buddies Pauly Guerrieri and Tony Howanitz, intending to become a UDT frogman (Navy Seal). But the Navy sent him to Radio Communications and Electronics School in San Diego. He was assigned to Pearl Harbor CommPac duty, and became a petty officer radioman communications supervisor at Lualualei, Oahu, operating high power transmitters for the Pacific Fleet. Off duty, he did coral reef diving at Waianae, hunted moray eels underwater, and played on the Navyís fastpitch softball team. He joined the performing arts group Hui O Mele, and did choreography and exhibition ballroom dancing in Waikiki at Fort DeRussy, Lau Yee Chai nightspot, and the Waikiki Tavern.

Honorably discharged, he returned to Chicago and attended the University of Illinois at Navy Pier, majoring in pre-law. He was elected president of Vets Illini, played center field and lead-off hitter for College Hall of Fame Baseball Coach Les Miller, was president of the Independent Illini Party, Student Congress, and wrote articles for the Pier Illini newspaper. He was one of the leaders in the student movement to locate a permanent site for the University of Illinois in Chicago, UIC.

Don completed undergraduate work at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, earning a BA in Liberal Arts and Sciences (1961) with majors in philosophy, history and languages. He founded Catalyst, a magazine of art, science and philosophy, Chicago International Manuscripts. He did post graduate work at the University of Chicago in film script writing and Oriental Institute studies. He attended Chicago-Kent College of Law (CPE) for copyright and intellectual properties law. He studied Chinese character calligraphy and brush painting at the Chinese American Museum of Chicago. He attended the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES) in Colorado. He trained at LíEcole de Ski du Mont Tremblant, Quebec, After several heroic crashes and wipe outs, he won a bronze Canadian Maple Leaf medal in downhill racing, and passed the skiing tradition on to his sons. He holds the Ullr medallion, Norse god of skiing, for Ancient and Accepted Foolhardy Mountaineers, presented by his brother, Jerry Torgersen.

Don was married to Kathleen Jean Pucillo during the great Chicago snowstorm in 1967. A city snowplow drove the newlyweds to the train for a skiing honeymoon at Mont Tremblant, Quebec. Kathleen is an exceptional vocalist, gourmet chef, former cheerleader, homecoming queen and lead performer in high school and college musicals. They have raised three sons in Palatine: Scott Arthur, Dana Falcon, Guy Eric, and one daughter, Jane Anne. Don composes songs on the piano for his childrenís stories, plays the American Indian high spirits flute, and dances to grandfather drum in the circles of dancers at intertribal pow wows across the country.

Torgersen became active in national politics in the 1990s, organizing for the independent presidential campaign of Ross Perot, and was recruited by Perot to be the Illinois Executive Director of United We Stand America, the national political and economic education arm. He was the Midwest campaign manager for former Colorado governor Richard Lamm and California congressman Ed Zschau, when they ran as a team to win the Reform Party nomination for president and vice president of the nation.

Co-founder of the American Reform Party, chairman of the platform committee and its national press secretary, Don introduced the American Buffalo as the partyís national symbol. He was editor and publisher of the American Political Reform newsletter, the national forum on political and economic issues. In 1998, Torgersen won the Reform Party primary and ran for the U.S. Senate seat from Illinois. He canoed Illinois rivers for a Clean Rivers Clean Elections campaign, but found the rivers cleaner than the elections. He received the Alexis de Tocqueville Award for his Dedication to the Good of the Republic and the Spirit of Democracy in America.

An avid climber in the Colorado Rockies, member of the Sir Edmund Hillary Overseas Adventure Team, mountain and road biker, alpine and cross country skier, Don enjoys opera, ballet, classical music, jazz, pop, rock, sailing, canoeing, golf, and competitive sports. He was the manager, coach and general manager of the Palatine Blue Jays, American Legion Baseball, State of Illinois champions twice. He was challenged to a downhill ski race in Voss, Norway, but a mountain troll popped his curious head out of the snow (trollrock skjult i snÝen) and tripped his skis. The troll tried to run away, but Torgersen yanked off his tail as proof that he tangled with trolls in the mountains of Norway and lived to tell about it. But then the darn tail ran away. Uff da!

Click the link to read the interview by VoyageChicago magazine that traces Don Torgersenís career as an author, editor, producer, publisher, naturalist, poet and storyteller.

Go to TreeofTales.com to hear Don Arthur Torgersen narrate an original story.
Contact don.torgersen@uswide.net for rights, publishing requests, and personal appearances. (847-359-2999) 

Don Arthur Torgersen
Published Works and Productions

As an author, editor, producer, publisher, naturalist, poet and storyteller


A literary and visual trilogy into contemporary, imperial, and legendary China and Tibet: narratives, tales, poems, essays, histories, calligraphy, paintings, performing arts, photos.

The life and artistry of prima ballerina assoluta Maya Plisetskaya, Bolshoi Ballet, and all styles of classical and modern dance with photos and personal anecdotes from famous dancers.

Author, GANDHI, People of Destiny Series / Childrens Press
Editor and Publisher, CATALYST, Editor and Publisher CATALYST international magazine of art, science and philosophy
Editor and Publisher PORT CHICAGO POETS a new voice in anthology
Host and Producer NINE FACES OF THE MUSE radio programs WXFM
AN EVENING OF RUSSIAN VIOLINS Rimsky-Korsakov virtuoso students, St. Petersburg Conservatory of Music

Author and Editor ANIMAL SAFARI NATURE LIBRARY / Childrens Press

Lion Prides and Tiger Tracks 
Killer Whales and Dolphin Play
Giraffe Hooves, Antelope Horns
Elephant Herds and Rhino Horns

ILLUSTRATED WILDLIFE STORIES FILMS with Worthley Burbank / Society for Visual Education

Beishung the Giant Panda
Curly and Simba: Twin African Lions
Buffy the Sea Otter
Coco and Chacha the Coatis
Windy the Snow Goose                
Koolah the White Koala

DOCUMENTARY ON CANADA FILMS writer, producer / Society of Visual Education

The Fishermen of Nova Scotia
Quebec City and the French Canadians
Pinawa: Suburb for Atomic Energy
Yellowknife: Capital Northwest Territories
Canada's Arctic Settlements      
Port Vancouver: Canada's Pacific Gateway

THE NEW JAPAN FILMS writer, producer / Society for Visual Education

Tokyo: World's Largest City 
A Traditional Japanese Family
Japan's Life from the Sea
Silk Farming at Takatoya
Nagasaki and Her Shipbuilders 
Okinawa: Keystone of the Pacific


Ziggy the Elephant 
The Polar Bears and the Seals
The Mountain Gorilla
The Great Tigers of India
The Wolves of Isle Royale            
Big Gator of the Everglades
The Porpoises and the Sailor     
Prairie Dog Town
The Wild Ostrich of the Kalahari
The Cheetahs of the Serengeti
Plain The Golden Eagles
The Blue Shark

TUMBLEDOWN TROLL TALES, Illustrated by Tom Dunnington / Childrens Press / Coronet Media

The Troll Who Lived in the Lake   
The Troll Who Went to School
Angry Giants of Troll Mountain  
The Wicked Witch of Troll Cave
Huff and Puff and the Troll Hole       
Torrek and the Elfin Girl
The Secret of Cathedral Lake      
The Scariest Night in Troll Forest
The Girl Who Tricked the Troll       
The Last Days of Gorlock the Dragon


THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE IN DEMOCRACY FILMS producer / Society for Visual Education

Give Us Independence
Working Together: The U.S.Constitution
The Living Constitution
The Chief Executive
Profile of Congress
The Supreme Court

RAINTREE ILLUSTRATED SCIENCE ENCYCLOPEDIA contributor / Western Publishing  Company

Palatine Park District Honors Committee
Cook Country Commissioner American Legion Baseball State Tournament Director American Legion Baseball Schaumburg Post 1983 American Legion
Past President Palatine Boys Baseball; Co-Founder Palatine Baseball Association American Association of College Baseball Coaches.
Alumnus University of Illinois, Authors Guild of America Loyal Lodge #1007 Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, Skokie
Scottish Rite 32nd Degree Freemasons, Valley of Chicago
Scottish Rite Bike Team riding for Multiple Sclerosis Research Sir Edmund Hillary Team, Overseas Adventure Travel
Founder, Editor of PUDDLER children's wildlife magazine / Ducks Unlimited Writer, Editor, Science and Mechanics Publishing Company
Writer, Editor, Science Research Associates
Managing Editor National Tattler Allied News Co. (1.3 million newsstand circulation) Host and co-producer International Poetry Festival Chicago
Host and producer Nine Faces of the Muse radio programs, WXFM Manager of Producers, Society for Visual Education
Poetry Instructor, publisher, Wilbur Wright College Chicago
Childrens Reading Round Table, Illinois Whole Language,
Vinland, Delisa Literary Society
Something About the Author, volume 55, pp 155-158, Gale Research, Detroit
VoyageChicago/Don Arthur Torgersen Productions