Ole Danbolt Mjøs, a former chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee that chooses the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, died earlier this week after a long illness. He was 74.
Mjøs was also a doctor, a professor, a church leader, a politician for the Christian Democrats party and dean of the University of Tromsø. It was his prestigious two-term post as chairman of the Nobel Committee, though, that brought him national and international recognition.
Mjøs was behind the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to, among others, the United Nations’ Climate Panel and former US Vice President Al Gore in 2007. Sissel Rønbeck of the Labour Party, who served with Mjøs on the Nobel Committee, remembered him as an “excellent leader with a manner that builds comfort and security for those around him.” At his 70th birthday just four years ago, when he retired from several of his posts, she placed him “among those people whom you can’t find anything negative to say.”
Newspaper Vårt Land, which broke the news on Wednesday of Mjøs’ death just a week before the next Nobel Peace Prize will be announced, said that Mjøs had continued to lead the Nord-Hålogaland diocese for the Norwegian state church until 2010 but had to miss many meetings because of illness. “He was an important pillar of the church in Northern Norway and a very good representative for the church in the north and nationwide,” Jens-Petter Johnsen, director of the state church council, told Vårt Land.
Mjøs was born in Bergen in 1939 but lived more than half his life in Tromsø in northern Norway. After studying medicine and becoming a doctor he became a professor of physiology at the University of Tromsø in 1975, and dean from 1989 to 1995.
He was named chairman of a government commission to evaluate higher education in Norway in the late 1990s and joined the Norwegian Nobel Committee in 2003. He also was a member of the city council in Tromsø for the Christian Democrats and often served as an ambassador of sorts for northern Norway in Oslo.
Funeral arrangements were pending.