MARQUETTE, MI – Roger Paul Magnuson, 90, of Marquette, passed away under the loving care of his partner, Beverly Matherne and UP Home Health and Hospice, on October 30, 2021.
Born September 14, 1931 in Marinette, Wisconsin, he spent his formative years in Menominee, Michigan.
In 1940, due to his father’s work as a drafting engineer with Michigan Bell, his family moved to Marquette, where he attended Froebel Elementary School, Howard Junior High and Graveraet High School, where he obtained his graduating in 1949. At this point, sports – baseball, basketball, track and field, and skiing – dominated his interests.
A member of the Marquette baseball team, he fondly remembers playing against inmates at Marquette Branch prison, how they rooted for the Marquette players and not theirs, how one of they gave him a pair of baseball shoes.
In 1950 he signed a professional baseball contract to pitch for a Boston Braves farm team. Playing baseball in the woods of eastern Kentucky, however, cured him of any illusions about the sport. He soon realized that education offered a brighter future.
In 1954 he graduated from the University of Michigan with a BA in Liberal Arts. Two years later, due to reinstated conscription during the Korean War, he was inducted into the military. After basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, he was dispatched to Fort Holabird, Maryland, the Army’s Counter-Intelligence Corps (CIC) training center. After five months of studying intelligence and teaching the German language, he was ordered to report to a CIC facility in a suburb of Stuttgart, Germany. There he traveled a lot across Europe. In 1956 he was honorably released, completing his military service.
Returning to the University of Michigan the same year, Roger obtained a teaching certificate and began a two-year stint as a social studies teacher at Albion High School in Albion, Michigan. At the same time, he did graduate studies in a joint history and education program, which led to a doctorate. in 1963.
In 1961 he accepted a summer teaching position at McGill University in Montreal; in the fall, a full-time tenure-track position. As he rose through the university ranks, he was promoted to full professor in 1971. First specializing in the history of Western civilization, he was interested in the cultural history of Quebec from the 17th century to the present day. “Quebec,” he said, “Offered many opportunities to researchers because it is a French company that has successfully resisted cultural assimilation in English-speaking North America.
In the 1990s, he had published four books, including Education in New France, not to mention many scholarly articles.
On his return to Marquette in 2004, he found an outlet for his interest in history. From 2007 he taught courses for the general public at the Peter While Public Library. Topics included espionage during WWII and the Cold War, a history of the GDR (East Germany), the origins of the English language, the impact of Gutenberg’s printing press, Franco-German relations. Indians in 17th-century New France and a cultural history of France. Roger was a Renaissance man. In addition to history, he enjoyed studying languages and was fluent in German and French. He was well read, knowledgeable and articulate but modest, winning the admiration of the members of the special focus group to which he and his partner belonged in Marquette. At his home on Lakeview Drive, he also hosted monthly book reviews by members of the group, as well as several of his own; in recent years, presented together with his partner Beverly.
Roger’s hobbies included brook trout fishing, hiking, and watercolor painting. He was a member of the Lake Superior Art Association and regularly participated in its May exhibition as well as Marquette Arts and Culture’s annual Winter Charm exhibition at the Peter White Public Library. In 2019, a solo exhibition of his work was held at Travel Marquette.
He is survived by his loving companion, Beverly Matherne; her sisters, Barbara Avery of Marquette and Dinah Dupras of Menominee; his nephews, Scott Avery (Alan) of Fort Wayne, IN, Paul Avery (Delair) of Kohler, WI, Steven Avery (Leslie) of the Cayman Islands, and Quinn Barrios (Rebecca) of Gladstone, MI; his nieces, Torii Gwynn (David) of New Port Richey, FL, Natalie Cady (Todd) of New Holstein, WI, and Heather Begovac, of Green Bay, WI and longtime friend, Bill Emblom of Ishpeming, MI.
He is predeceased by his parents, Sigrid Marie and Paul Frederick Magnuson, and his brother-in-law, Claude “Bud” Avery.
Roger greatly appreciated the Marquette Symphony Orchestra, witness to its rise to power. He was also a regular at the Peter White Public Library and the Olson Library at Northern Michigan University. “Marquette” he said one day, “Has a beautiful symphony, two libraries and a breathtaking natural environment for sports all year round. I couldn’t think of a better place to spend my final years. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Marquette Symphony Orchestra, Peter White Public Library, or NMU’s Olson Library.
The family entrusted Fassbender Swanson Hansen of Marquette Funeral and Cremation Services with the final arrangements. The time and date for a celebration of Roger’s life at the Peter White Public Library will be announced at a later date.
Condolences can be expressed online at wwwfassbenderswansonhansen.com.Roger Paul Magnuson