In 1974, John Bone, a pilot for Eastern Airlines, happened to fly over Western North Carolina. He was impressed with what he saw. The next week he drove to the area from his home in Connecticut, and the week after that he moved his wife Ingrid, a native of Norway, and their two children, Anne and Sven, to Brevard. Soon thereafter, their third child, Hans, was born at Transylvania Hospital.
Both Hans and Sven received Connestee Falls scholarships – Hans in 1993 after he graduated from Brevard High School and was entering his first year at Brevard College, and Sven in 1994 when he was in his second year at BC. Hans spoke for both when he said that the Connestee Falls scholarships were “life-changing.”
Their father John was killed in an accident in Jackson, Wyo., in February, 1993. The family, of course, was traumatized, and the financial assistance was most welcome with Sven at Brevard College and Hans about to enroll there.
Both young men graduated from BC with associate’s degrees in science. Both went on to extensive further studies and interesting careers.
Sven had realized early on that he had a proclivity for math and physics, so in 1995 he moved to Bozeman, Mont., to attend Montana State University, from which he graduated in 1998 with a degree in physics. He chose Montana State not only because of its excellent physics department but also because he had grown up Fly Fishing on the Davidson River, and he wanted to ski and fish in the Rockies.
While working on his degree in physics, Sven realized that he found the machining of tools for experiments to be more interesting than the experiments themselves.
Next, he completed a degree in mathematics; during those studies he took pre-med courses and had a lab partner who wanted to become a dentist. Talks with his lab partner led Sven to the realization that dentistry is a combination of engineering, artistry and science, with the additional perk of providing the opportunity to care for patients. He decided he really liked the idea of the craftsmanship of dentistry and the freedom of having his own business.
He completed dental school at the University of the Pacific in San Francisco and then went to Baylor for graduate studies and residency in prosthodontics, which he completed in 2011. He practiced in Dallas until 2015, then moved back to Montana.
He worked in a few practices until he opened his own practice in Bozeman in August of 2018. He and his wife Ana Stan, a research and clinical psychiatrist, have a 16-month-old daughter, Nora Marie.
After his graduation from Brevard College, Hans went to Appalachian State University, where he majored in economics and finance. He soon decided he did not want to be a banker and joined Sven in Montana. He obtained a master’s degree in computer science at Montana State University and then completed a master’s degree in physician assistant studies at Rocky Mountain College in Billings. While in Billings, he met his wife Aubyn.
Hans and Aubyn moved to Connestee Falls in 2010. Hans worked at Four Seasons Palliative Care in Flat Rock from 2010 to 2013 and Aubyn worked at Blue Ridge Community College as an academic advisor. However, for Aubyn the pull of family in Montana was strong, and the two returned there in 2013. Hans works in pain management and palliative care for SCL Health Medical Group at the Billings Pain Center. He notes that one of the good things about being a physician assistant is that one “can jump into different things easily.” He expects to move into dermatology next.
He and Aubyn have two daughters, Brenna, 8 months, and Bergen, 2 years old.
Hans and Sven still have ties to Western North Carolina and visit when their busy schedules allow. Their mother, Ingrid Birkeland, lives in Brevard, and their older sister, Anne Birkeland, is a radiology technician in Lake Lure.
The two men remember fondly their trips to Norway to visit their mother’s family when they and their sister were children. Sven said that he “always had a little bit of his head in Norway.” His Norwegian experiences gave him a cultural perspective on how different societies can function and how people can get along with each other and be happy.