PLATTSBURGH — This year’s winner of the annual Plattsburgh North Country Chamber of Commerce St. Patrick’s Day breakfast Irishman of the Year award may have one up on the previous honorees.
“I think I may be the only winner who ever actually lived in Ireland,” Dr. Kjell Dahlen told the crowd of 450 people at the SUNY Plattsburgh Angell Center Ballroom Monday morning.
“I kissed the Blarney Stone, but I don’t think the blarney ever caught on with me.”
Dahlen, 67, was named the 56th Irishman of the Year in honor of his business, community and humanitarian efforts.
“He is the perfect example of someone who came here from another land and made a home here who has contributed greatly in business and in the community and has become a part of the North Country,” Chamber President Garry Douglas said.
SERVES POOR IN INDIA
Dahlen is a native of Norway who attended medical school for six years in Dublin, Ireland, before coming to the United States.
After a stint as the director of Retina Services and an assistant professor at West Virginia University, he settled in Plattsburgh in 1978, starting an ophthalmology practice.
He eventually became, and still is, president of Eye Care for the Adirondacks, which has locations in Plattsburgh, Malone and Saranac Lake.
As an eye doctor, Dahlen has spent time offering free medical treatment at a clinic to those of an impoverished region of India for the past 20 years.
His work is done in the name of the Plattsburgh AM Rotary Club, of which he is an active member.
Locally, he has organized an auction the past two decades to benefit the Interfaith Food Shelf. This year’s auction brought in $26,000.
An avid sailor, Dahlen has also been instrumental in organizing the annual Mayor’s Cup Regatta, the largest sailboat race on Lake Champlain.