Tove Dierssen embraced the United States when she came here from Copenhagen in 1959, but she never left Denmark behind.
A professional ballroom dancer in her native country, she taught Danish folk dancing here for more than 20 years and was long active in Twin Cities Danish-American community.
Dierssen, 81, died in her sleep Aug. 18 at home in White Bear Lake.
With an affinity for the United States and desire to see the world, Tove Agerbeck — as she was known then — arrived on an ocean liner for a grand tour: Washington, D.C.; New York, Cleveland and other stops.
In Ohio she met Gunther Dierrsen, who had emigrated from Denmark a few years earlier. It was love at first sight.
“We got married in a month’s time,” Gunther said.
Tove, who started dancing at age 4, had been a competitive ballroom dancer and instructor in Denmark. She continued competitive dancing for a time in the United States, “but she found that dancing here wasn’t like it was in Europe,” Gunther said.
In 1963, Gunther, a chemical engineer, was working in Cleveland for General Electric when he got a job offer from 3M.
“I drove up there and interviewed, and told her that there were a lot of villages and farms,” he said. “She was a Copenhagen city girl, so she didn’t think that was too exciting.”
He took the job and they moved to White Bear Lake — they’d heard the town had a particularly good school system — and started a family that would include four daughters.
Tove and Gunther, both of whom had learned English in Denmark, spoke Danish at home in Minnesota so their kids would learn the language.
Soon after moving to White Bear Lake, the Dierssens became involved with the local Danish-American community, which was centered in south Minneapolis.
Gunther served as president for nine years of the Danish American Fellowship, which was instrumental in creating the Danish American Center on West River Parkway in south Minneapolis.
Tove taught folk dancing at the center for more than two decades, leading the “Danish Delights.”
She was long the Minnesota editor for the Chicago-based Danish Pioneer, the nation’s oldest Danish-language newspaper.
She also was a board member of the Rebild Society, which supports an annual U.S. Fourth of July celebration in Denmark’s Rebild National Park.
Tove wasn’t just steeped in Danish culture.
“She lived the full American experience, and embraced everything that was American,” said Rikke Dierssen-Morice, one of Tove’s daughters. “She would go into the Good Housekeeping cookbook to find green Jell-O recipes.”
Tove was a member of the White Bear Women’s Club, the White Bear Lake Book Club and a local mahjong club. She was a longtime Weight Watchers leader, conducting group meetings.
And she always remained interested in dancing — “Dancing with the Stars” was a must-watch TV show. She danced in her senior years, “but mostly with me,” Gunther said.
Aside from Gunther and daughter Rikke, Tove is survived by daughters Annette Jagger, Christina Dierssen and Heidi Dierssen; nine grandchildren, and four great children. Services have been held.