On Thursday, March 19th, over two hundred people gathered to celebrate Kim's life. Here are a few moments from that ceremony, the gathering afterwards for sharing memories and from the trip that Kim's three companions - Val Hart, Sam Low and Terry Vose - made to Norway to honor Kim.
Kim's good friend, Per Strande, gives the memorial address
Memorial Speech by Per Strande
To my friend Kim
Randi did ask me if I as a friend of Kim would give his memorial speech. For me that was a honor and pleasure. At the same time it gave me a touch of bad conscience for not having nurtured our friendship the last years.
We met 28 years ago in Nils Bays vei in Oslo where we both lived with our families. We had different things in common, like carpeting, kayaking, skiing. I remember one of our first meetings in my basement where I had a carpenter’s bench. Kim’s friend which he shared a mountain pasture with had brought some old floorboards from that pasture in the mountains which Kim was going to make a dining table from. History, simplicity, roots, design and not at least doing things differently were all important elements for Kim represented in that table.
An important background for developing our friendship was our travels. On his photo safaris he did also research to find nice places for recreation like skiing and kayaking. He took our families to beautiful places like Nord-Koster and Greppan for kayaking and Raggsteindalen for mountain skiing, places we went to for many years which I never will forget.
For me Kim was a person who appreciated what many would call small things, things which Kim and I shared. For him who noticed all details, a trip was different if he passed on the backside of landscape element which he had earlier passed on the front side. It could also be the satisfaction he felt with a thing he had developed to sail his kayak instead of paddling it. I‘m sure he felt more satisfaction by sailing his kayak with his rain coat as a sail rigged on a branch he has found under a tree, than the skipper of a 50 feet sail boat. I believe I have learned much of this.
When I saw the picture of Kim in the obituary in yesterday’s Aftenposten I felt it was an obituary for a person who was still alive. Standing here beside Kim’s coffin I am not there yet that I understand he is inside it.
Kim died Wednesday nearly having his ski boots on, ready for a trip to the Alps. However, he canceled Monday something which tells us that knew him that he must have got some strong signals. What he was thinking - nobody knows.
Kim was born and grew up in USA, lived most of those years in New Britain, Connecticut, an area of USA more European than most other places in USA. He mastered most things, came from a rich family, could have reached the highest established goals of most Americans, but would things differently. Formal education was not for Kim. His education should be performed according to own values and plans. Teachers , study places and program he decided himself and he also constituted the jury for the exam. Even if his own evaluation was most important I must say that he succeeded in getting his degree from the University of Life.
The best way of learning from Kim’s great experience was obviously to watch him – he had much to give.
From his father he learned skiing, boating and taking photographs – competence which later became core elements of his life
Kim traveled to Europe at an age of 20 and stayed for the rest of his life. In St. Halvard, a publication from Oslo City Society he wrote about himself in 2004 under the heading: “Oslo fotograf fra USA” which I have translated from Norwegian: “After studies in Germany and France in a continuous attempt to escape from Bürgerlichkeit and la Bourgeoisie, I’m coming to Norway and became bewitched. That Easter I’m cross country skiing from cabin to cabin in Jotunheimen (famous mountain area), meeting people with a lifestyle which can become my own. One day in the year of destiny 1968 I decide to always carry a camera. Strongly influenced by Bresson I turn into Street Photography. However, by market reasons Straight Photography takes over for Street Photography. Norwegian wife and two children follow. Photos are distributed by Samfoto. I’m more and more becoming an Oslo photographer with architecture, sculpture, forest and field focus. For us with both feet in the past, and a longing eye on future opportunities in the digital world, we have it tough. We are working backwards in the archive at the same time struggling towards new motives with weapons we are not used to. The office calls, while the field lures.
Kim was not flashy person who demanded a lot of room but he was very visible and many knew who he was and what he stood for. He was no man of big words - it was more his actions and practice which showed who he was. Visual impressions, however, he gave many words to, may be a correlation to his profession as photographer. In addition to photos he now and then wrote articles that showed that he also was very good command of the written word.
Kim was always interested in others and helpful to people around him. His ideal from his youth about always doing what he believed in and not follow others, he followed consistently - perhaps for me his most visible leading star. Randi showed high tolerance, but it was just a living style, she quickly realized she had to accept. Kim was Kim, and would never be any different. Kim in return was good, gave much room for Randi and gave much love and care. I saw from my standpoint, overall balance in a relationship between two people who were very fond of each other in a close relationship with the children Kaja and Niklas in a family without close relatives in Norway, but with good friends. Trips to the USA to keep in touch with the family was carried out - Martha Vineyard was the place of choice if one place should be picked.
Ski and paddling was not only hobbies but almost two professions which brought him into contact with his photo motives. Countless tours and his engaged and engaging descriptions of new routes, trees that he cut down to bring new visual views and new tracks possible. Some of these trips, he has described in different journals such as his ski trip around Oslo through the forests starting and ending at the banks of Oslofjorden, La Haute Route on Randonee ski through the Alps from Chamonix to Zermatt and lately hiking on Capri. The last two trips also inspired me to do the same trips.
He was a resource saver and an inventor and countless are the repairs and improvements he made on his gears.
Said by cousin Sam: Kim was loyal. If you were his friend, you were his friend for life. If you were a stranger, he would assume that you might soon be a friend. I could not agree less with Sam.
Randi wanted a poem by the Norwegian poet Kolbein Falkeid, which they both shared to be read during the memorial seremony.
Døden er ikke
så skremmende som før.
Folk jeg var glad i har gått
foran og kvistet løype.
De var skogskarer
Jeg finner nok frem.
Death is not
as frightening as it was.
People I cared about have been
ahead and marked the track.
They were men of the forest
and used to the mountains,
I will find the way.
At last to Kim’s family:
You have lost the dearest you had.
Missing him will be indescribable.
You will meet tough days.
We are there to help you, but it is you who will go through the difficult times.
I am sure that you will manage over time given the ballast you all got.
There is a bright spot: You had a fantastic life together during 40 years – a life that many of us do not have nor will experience.
Kim's son, Niklas, honors his father
Niklas' Memorial to His father
My dearest Daddy.
No one made me more proud than you.
You showed me a different world. You showed me that the 17th of May (the Norwegian National day) did not necessarily have to be celebrated with a tricolor bow-tie and ice cream - but with a bowie knife and grilled pork chops by Lille Åklungen (a little lake in the forest outside of Oslo). There was always a secret spot away from the main track. That was where you took me.
You have always been secure. I could hide behind your broad back when the barracudas came too close in the Bahamas. I had some doubts whether you always knew where you were going, like the time we wandered in fog on Folgefonna (the third biggest glacier in Norway) or when we beat new tracks through unspoilt snow in Nordmarka. But you were always right. I was secure.
Mom experienced that very same security. You won her and made yourself her life companion and guide. You earned each other. And it was good to see that even after forty years, the way you looked at mom revealed that you were still in love with her.
Where the other fathers wore a tie, you had a camera. And where the other fathers wore a belt, you had another camera. Taking pictures was not only a job. It was a way of looking at the world, a way of living in it. Usually, you found your motifs. But I am not so sure that you realized that the best motif was you.
You were an anti-snob. There are many of those. But you were an anti-snob in a non-snobby fashion. On our kayak trips you often wore a pink cap that you found floating in the open sea. Your nose was white from thick layers of sunscreen, and on each side of your sunglasses you put small strips of tape to keep the sun rays out. It was practical that way.
You repaired a 15 year old ski suit with a mouse pad. Not to show that you were an anti-materialist, but because it was practical to have something soft on your hip when leaning against a tree to keep the camera steady. When I was young and immature, I was embarrassed by things like that. When I grew up, I realized that I had the coolest dad in the whole world.
But you were not only the coolest. You were also the kindest. You were always there for Kaja and me. And soon also for Julie. When we needed you, either for small or big reasons, you were there for us. Now we need you more than ever.
You always had so much to teach, but you were never didactic. I have asked myself what might be the most important thing you taught me. You taught me to oil the the end of wooden planks. Many times. But the most important thing you taught me was to always be yourself. I don’t know anybody who was himself more than you were. You challenged conventions without ever letting go of your decency.
You gave us so many good experiences in life. And you filled your own life with good experiences. You reached over so much. And yet you reached over way too little. You got to become a grand-dad. But you never got to fill the role. You and Kornelia should be toddling together on cross county skis, with oranges in your back-pack and hot chocolate in the Thermos. And you should be teaching her English the way you taught us. Now Kornelia says that Vava is dead and that you are sitting on a star. We listen to what Kornelia has to tell us.
To us you were invincible. You were a rock that couldn’t tumble over. Yet you tumbled. But you shall never be gone. You will always be with us. We will always think about you, talk about you, learn from you and love you.
Kim's neighbor and friend, Lars Ø. Bryngelsson, a professional
musician, plays Allemande from Bach's suite No. 6.
Randi, Kaja, Niklas
After the ceremony
Solveig - Julie's mother
Arild Hansen and Svein Erik Dahl from Kims norwegian photo agency Samfoto, with Jim Bengston
Giskehagen Community House
As Kim has passed away it is time to look back and cherish his contribution to help promote skiing and outdoor life in the woods around Oslo all year around. Not just in the shape of text and photos which he mastered as few others, but also his many enjoyable visits at the office in Skiforeningen (the Association for the Promotion of Skiing) will be remembered with fondness. We held dear this “different” man and getting to know him.
Calm and cool, natural, exciting - and always so alive.
He would tell about his trips through the woods with enthusiasm, passing on ideas about new tracks or paths – often in the middle of nowhere – often difficult to carry through. Sometimes he would suggest important information or subjects we could pass on to our members and readers. Then he would be off again on another trip with his dog and his camera. Always casually dressed with loads of wool and a small silk scarf around the neck! Ready for new impressions and experiences. Through the years Kim's impressions and experiences has been recorded to numerous rolls of film and later digital memory sticks. The members in Skiforeningen has had the pleasure of sharing his experiences through texts and photos in our magazine Snø & Ski (Snow & ski) as well as in yearbooks and other printed material. Kim's huge contribution will live on and we will remember him as a straightforward man with his heart in the right place.
We are many who will miss Kim!
Skiforeningen (the Association for the Promotion of Skiing)
Ola Hole (friend and ski companion for over 40 years)
Annema Grøsland (next door neighbor)
A tribute from Kim's Norwegian photo agency - Samfoto
Kim Hart til minne
Brått og uventet døde sam’fotograf Kim Hart fra oss. Nå blir han minnet, blant alle oss som savner ham - og med egen side på nettet.
Amerikanske Kim kom til Norge på 60-tallet, og ble bokstavelig talt bergtatt. Siden fanget han selv den norske naturen med kamera. For mer enn 20 år siden sluttet han seg til Samfoto, der vi opplevde hvordan bildene hans strømmet inn i det voksende arkivet. For Kim var en mann som levde sitt liv med kamera.
Han bidro ikke bare til fotograf-felleskapet og byråets drift med bildene. Han var også en praktisk mann vi kunne støtte oss på. Da byrået ved tusenårsskiftet flyttet og inventaret måtte tilpasses nye lokaler var det naturlig for 'snekker' Kim å ta Samfotos kjøkkenbord med hjem og fikse det ...
For flere av oss var han også en personlig venn. Hans rause latter og humør bidro på mang en sam’fotografsamling.
I byråets interne blad gjenga vi engang navnet hans i semafor-alfabet-versjon, ikke uten et visst jetset-preg: Hotel-Alfa-Romeo-Tango! Den presentasjonen moret ikke bare Kim, men alle som kjente ham. For en mann mindre preget av hang til jetset og jåleri er det vanskelig å tenke seg. Kim var en naturens mann, og en jordnær mann. Han opplevde, og tolket, og trålet naturen i Norge tettere enn den norskeste nordmann: Med kamera på ski, med kamera i kajakken.
Han levde et innholdsfylt og opplevelsesrikt liv, men verken som fotograf eller menneske var han en mann av store ord, eller en mann som framhevet seg selv. Derfor vil nok mange sette pris på minnesiden som nå er opprettet på nettet, i regi av hans slektning Sam Low. For der møter vi mange sider ved Kim; familiemannen, dykkeren, seileren, National Geographic-fotografen...
Kim Hart ble bisatt i Oslo 19. mars, i et fullsatt kapell der familie og venner både fra norsk og amerikansk side tok farvel under en vakker seremoni.
Nå vil vi savne ham, både som fotograf, kollega og venn.
Terry, Olav Harlem (from The Association for the Promotion of Skiing)
and Knut Jordfald
Jim and Sam
Niklas and Julie
Jim Bengston recalls a moment with Kim
Randi welcomes guests after ceremony
Randi and Val
Sam, Terry and Val made a pilgrimage to The Dubliner where Kim and his friends often met to discuss photography and life deep into the night.
The manager remembered them well...
On Friday night Jim and Trine Bengston hosted Kim's family in a celebration of Kim's life
Espen and Kaja
Val and Randi
Niklas and Julie
Niklas and Julie
Jim in his studio
Jim gives us all copies of his books - in memory of Kim
On saturday, Sam visited Nils Juels gate 48 where Kim lived in 1967
and later, Sam, Julia, Niklas and Val toasted Kim at Julia and Niklas' home
Kim's Resting Place
from Niklas Hart
Last Tuesday (June 9, 2009) we buried the urn. It was sealed, had a golden tint, and
was no heavier than a jar of milk. It had a paper label attached to
it, with dad's name. The hole was already dug, only two feet deep.
Kaja and I gently placed it in the hole and covered it with soil. By
mistake we put the good soil, ment for the flowers, in first. Then we
put the poorer, claylike soil on top. We chose to leave it that way.
Now dad rests in the best soil there is.
It is a beautiful spot. I took a terribly exposed picture of it, but
you will get an idea. The church is just a short walk away from
Giskehagen, and the urnyard is like a botanical garden. Clusters of
old oaks, maples and elms. There are evergreen, blooming bushes
scattered and birds constantly fill the air with joyful twittering.
The terrain is hilly, uneaven, and most of the gravestones look as if
though they have been found in the Norwegian highlands, perfectly
Incidently dad's closest neighbor is one of the Norwegians he admired
the most, the explorer and anthroplogist Helge Ingstad, who died in
2001, 101 years old. And just 50 feet away the urn of another of dad's
heroes, the philosopher Arne Næss was buried the very same day. He
died only two months earlier, aged 97. Dad went to the funeral which
was held in the church you see on the picture.
We have found a stone. It is a two-and-a-half foot piece of rock that
dad has found somewhere and dragged to his house. He never found the
right spot for it, but he sure must have sweated a lot to conquer it.
It is pure granite, rectangular in shape. Although it has no straight
lines it will be one of the more elaborated in the new environment. It
is less than a foot wide, but dad had a short name. I will fit on one
line. I will send you a picture of it once it is erected, probably by
the end of June. For the time being we have only planted some white
I can't tell you how much I miss him. But it is comforting to know
that he is resting in a peaceful place, surrounded by beauty.