Roald Tweet, of Rock Island, a retired college professor and a popular chronicler of local history, is a recipient of a 2006 Studs Terkel Humanitarian Service Award from the Illinois Humanities Council.
He is among more than 75 Illinois “humanities heroes” nominated by mayors and village presidents from around the state. The award is named in honor of Louis “Studs” Terkel, a prize-winning author, broadcaster and historian from Chicago.
Tweet, professor emeritus of English at Augustana College, will receive the award next month at a time and place to be announced. He was nominated by Mayor Mark Schwiebert.
“Few people could be more deserving of an award named after Studs Terkel than Roald Tweet,” Schiebert said in a news release. “Like Mr. Terkel, Roald is a consummate observer and listener of the rhythm and pattern that make life on the Upper Mississippi, and of the habits and attitudes that shape the lives of the people who live here. As a gifted retired professor, he teaches less by lecturing than by casting a curious eye on the world around him and then by inspiring the curiosity of his listeners. I’m delighted to have had a hand in gaining this well-deserved recognition for Dr. Tweet.”
In 2001, Tweet received the Illinois Humanities Council’s Lawrence W. Towner Award for his “Rock Island Lines” radio commentaries heard on Augustana College public radio station WVIK-FM. He also is a contributor to “On the River,” published by the Quad-City Times.
His published works include “A History of the Rock Island Corps of Engineers, 1866-1893” and “The Quad-Cities: An American Mosaic.” A craftsman as well as a scholar, he made a model of the first railroad bridge crossing the Mississippi River on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the bridge, which linked Rock Island and Davenport.
“Being a Norwegian-American, I am overwhelmed,” he said of his award. “We really don’t have that much spice in our lives, salt and pepper plus cardamon at Christmas.”
He remembers Terkel from his student days in the 1950s at the University of Chicago, when he heard him debate at the College of Complex bar in the city’s Old Town neighborhood.
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The Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award, presented biennially, was created to recognize persons who have made lasting contributions to the cultural life of their communities. More than 400 recipients have been honored since 1999. They receive engraved medals that are struck in solid bronze by the same company that makes the Pulitzer Prize medal.
Others from the Quad-Cities who have received the award are Don Wooten and Ruth Evelyn Katz, both of Rock Island; and Joel Ryser, Moline.
John Willard can be contacted at (563) 383-2314 or firstname.lastname@example.org.