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Funeral services for Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl next week (AP) ... water or medication in early April after being diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor.... - Apr 19 12:00 PM ET

Al Musella's Comments: (This is his personal views and are not necessarily the views of the Musella Foundation!)


Posted on: 04/20/2002

Fri Apr 19,12:00 PM ET

By NILS MYKLEBOST, Associated Press Writer

OSLO, Norway - Thor Heyerdahl, the scientist and adventurer whose 1947 Kon-Tiki expedition captured the world's imagination, will be remembered next week at funeral services attended by royalty in Norway but will be buried at his beloved village in Italy.

Heyerdahl, who crossed the Pacific on a balsa log raft called Kon-Tiki and detailed the harrowing voyage in a book of the same name, died Thursday night in his sleep at home in Colla Michari, a Roman-era Italian village he bought and restored in the 1950s.

The funeral will be held next Friday at a 17th century Lutheran cathedral in downtown Oslo in a service conducted by Bishop Gunnar Staalsett, Heyerdahl's daughter-in-law Grethe Heyerdahl said, adding the government was paying the expenses as a token of honor.

Palace officials confirmed the royal family would attend. Prime Minister Kjell Bondevik also was expected, the Norwegian news agency NTB reported.

Heyerdahl will be buried in his Italian village at a private ceremony during the summer.

"It was his last wish that the urn be set down in Colla Michari," Grethe Heyerdahl said.

Though he lived and worked abroad for decades, Heyerdahl was a national hero in his homeland, where one newspaper crowned him Norwegian of the Century in a millennium reader poll.

"The world's most famous Norwegian is dead," the daily newspaper Aftenposten said in a headline on Friday.

A steady stream of people lined up to sign a book of condolences and light candles at the Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo, where Heyerdahl's famous balsa raft is on display together with the reef boat Ra II and artifacts from later expeditions to Peru, Polynesia and Easter Island.

The museum, which was flooded with phone calls and e-mails about the explorer, also planned to show the 1951 Oscar-winning documentary film of the Kon-Tiki expedition continuously for a week starting Sunday, and a memorial exhibit was planned, spokeswoman Halfdan Tangen said.

Heyerdahl sold millions of copies of his book "Kon-Tiki" and became a household name with his voyages aimed at proving his theories about human migration. He had stopped taking food, water or medication in early April after being diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor.

When Heyerdahl set off to cross the Pacific on the Kon-Tiki, experts warned his raft would sink within days, but he proved them wrong by reaching Polynesia from Peru in 101 days.

His later expeditions included voyages aboard the reed rafts Ra, Ra II and Tigris.

"I give him credit for creating the whole field of Polynesian archaeology. Before Kon-Tiki, people assumed the area had only been inhabited a few hundred years before European contact," said Betty Meggers, an anthropologist at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington

Until his illness, Heyerdahl had maintained a daunting pace of research, lectures and public debate over his migration theories.

The Kon-Tiki Museum kept an apartment available for his use in this Scandinavian country of 4.5 million people. His permanent home since 1990 was on the Spanish island Tenerife in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Morocco.

He is survived by his third wife, Jacqueline, four of his five children, eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.


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