In Memoriam: Dr. Roald D. Tweet

If you were to ask a local Quad Cities resident what Roald Tweet did for a living, you would probably get several answers. A college professor. An author. A radio personality. Each of those answers would be correct, but he was so much more to many of us.

Dr. Roald Dahl Tweet passed away on Wednesday, November 4, 2020 leaving behind an amazing legacy and impressive body of work that will educate and entertain us for years to come.

Born September 1, 1933 in Fountain City, Wisconsin to Reuben and Dorothy (Dahl) Tweet. The family moved to Jackson, Minnesota when he was very young. A younger brother, David, was born in Minnesota in 1938. By junior high, the family had moved to nearby Mountain Lake, Minnesota where Roald graduated from Mountain Lake High School in 1951.

Mountain Lake High School Yearbook, Mountain Lake, Minnesota, 1951. Ancestry.com

After high school, he attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. Upon graduation, he briefly taught English at St. Olaf. While teaching there, he married his college sweetheart, Margaret Knudson, in 1957.  By 1960, he moved his small family to Rock Island, Illinois and began teaching English at Augustana College.

Augustana College Yearbook, 1963. Ancestry.com

In 1967, Roald completed his doctorate in American Literature from the University of Chicago. He would teach at Augustana from 1960 through 1999. He was a celebrated teacher known for his humor and creativity. Many of his students remember his support and encouragement to be themselves and never stop writing.

Upon retirement, Dr. Tweet would receive the recognition of Professor Emeritus of English at Augustana College. Some highlights from his years at Augustana include:

  • English department chair from 1967 – 1984.
  • In 1998, appointed to the Conrad Bergendoff Chair in the Humanities.
  • Served on the faculty for the graduate program in regional studies.
  • Faculty advisor for the Observer and the Writer’s Club.
  • 1990 recipient of the Sear-Roebuck Foundation Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership Award.

Throughout his years in Minnesota and the Quad Cities, Roald was surrounded by water, specifically the Mississippi River and its tributaries. He embraced the river and its history in both his writing and later on his radio show, Rock Island Lines, which ran on WVIK, Augustana’s National Public Radio station.

In 1999, Dr. Tweet retired from Augustana but remained busy with speaking engagements, writing, and many other projects. He was a well-respected source of information on the Quad Cities and the Mississippi River.

Some of his works held in the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center at the Davenport Public Library – Main Street branch include:

  • A History of the Rock Island District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1866 -1983. SC 977-3393 Twe
  • The Quad Cities: An American Mosaic. SC 977-7 Twe.
  • Colonial Davenport Historical Foundation Wildcats Wily inner: a Pourquoi story from the Shawnee Indians. SC Fic Col Dav.
  • A History of the Rock Island District Corps of Engineers. 186 – 1975. SC 977-3393 Twe.
  • Joined By a River: Quad Cities. SC 977.7 Qua.
  • Taming the Des Moines River. SC 627.1 Twe.
  • Rock Island Lines. SC CD NF 977.3393 Tweet ROA

In honor of all his work, in 2006, Dr. Tweet received the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award from the Illinois Humanities Council. Recipients for this prestigious award are nominated by mayors across the state of Illinois.

We offer our condolences to his family on his passing. And we thank Dr. Roald Tweet for his amazing legacy. He taught his students well, those in the college classrooms, and those who learned through his many books, articles, radio show, and speeches.

He was a wonderful teacher and we are all his grateful students.

Resources:

  • Ancestry.com
  • Augustana College. www.augustana.edu
  • The Dispatch-Argus, November 5, 2020. qconline.com

(posted by Amy D.)

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