This month is the 35th anniversary of the only visit to Point Roberts by a head of state. The president of Iceland, Vigdis Finnbogadottir, visited the exclave on October 22, 1988. When her visit was announced, Pauline DeHaan and other descendants of Icelandic immigrants to the Point sprang into action, developing a detailed plan for the esteemed visitor. Nothing was left to chance, including keeping a lookout for environmental activists who might protest Iceland’s whaling practices. Finnbogadottir and her entourage were met at the border and escorted to the Point Roberts cemetery. Led by Joan Thorstenson Linde, she walked in the cemetery, strolling among the tombstones of original Icelandic settlers, impressed the settlers hadn’t changed their surnames. After a brief stop at the Lutheran church, the president attended a reception at the community center. During a luncheon, she was presented with a painting and copy of Richard Clark’s book on the history of Point Roberts. Locals loaned their best china and silver services and dressed up in their finest attire. Finnbogadottir was the first female directly elected head of state in the world. She was reelected four times, twice unopposed, and earlier in the year before her 1988 visit to Point Roberts she had been reelected with an incredible 92 percent of the vote. She served 16 years, making her the longest-serving elected female head of government in any country in history. Two years prior to her visit she hosted Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev in their famous Reykjavik Summit on eliminating nuclear weapons. Today, a plaque in the center of the cemetery commemorates Finnbogadottir’s visit, placed there in October 1998 on the 10th anniversary of her visit. Discover the Point’s Icelandic history in the History Center on Gulf Road.
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