Oct. 27, 2003 – A Danish businessman who retired to St. Croix a decade ago and who advocates reparations for the descendants of enslaved Africans transported to the island when it was under Danish rule has been made a knight of the Order of Dannebrog by Denmark's Queen Margrethe II.
Leif Clemens Pedersen, who purchased a home on St. Croix in 1980 and retired to the island permanently in 1993, has been active over four decades in fostering business and cultural relationships between his homeland and the United States.
Pedersen and his wife, Elisabeth, also have been the focus of media attention in Denmark recently. On Oct. 18, they were featured in a three-hour prime time program on Danish national television that "highlighted Danes thriving with the local people of beautiful St. Croix," according to a release from Martin Public Relations, the territory's national publicity agency.
Pedersen has attracted attention in part because he is an advocate of Denmark making reparations to the descendants of Africans enslaved on St. Croix. On Nov. 21, in a Danish radio program called "Red Grout and Blood Lines," he will articulate his belief that the Danes should build industries on St. Croix in order to create jobs while boosting the island's economy.
Born in Copenhagen in 1938, Pedersen moved to New York to assist the president of a Danish civil engineering and construction company. After that, he spent two decades working with an Argentine-Italian consortium involved in pipeline, refinery and steel mill construction in Latin America, Europe and the Middle East. He and his wife purchased a home on St. Croix in 1980, and they settled on the island full time after he took early retirement in 1993.
Pedersen has served as president of the St. Croix Friends of Denmark and is a referee for the American Youth Soccer Organization on Saturdays. Tourism Commissioner Pamela C. Richards praised him in the release for "his unrelenting love, service and activism for St. Croix."
In New York, he has facilitated Danish contacts and promotions in the United States; started the Scandinavian Soccer Sports Club "The Vikings"; chaired the Danish American Coordinating Council in Greater New York; served on the Danish Home for the Aged board; and co-founded a cultural exchange program for the performing arts.
Knighthood today is granted by the Danish ruler in recognition of contributions to Denmark of civil and military merit.
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