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Remembering former languages professor Sirevaag

September  19, 2013

Dr. John A. Sirevaag, who taught in multiple disciplines at Augustana from 1958-1991, died Wednesday, at his home in Rock Island. He was 88. 


A native of Stavanger, Norway, he was the son of Oskar and Gurina Sirevaag. He attended the universities of Oslo, Vienna and Paris before moving to the United States, where he earned bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Iowa. For four years (1954-1958), he headed the foreign languages program at Grand View College, Des Moines, Iowa.

He came to Augustana College in 1958, where his expertise in a variety of languages and cultures contributed significantly to the college's growing international programs. He taught French, German and Russian, at various times chairing each of these departments (his tenure as German department head extended over three decades), as well as the then-Division of Humanities.

He was deeply involved in Augustana's international studies programs, guiding and shaping them in their fledgling years. He initiated and directed the French summer school abroad in the early 1970s, and served as director of the European Term from its inception. Much of the continuity and success of this term, as well as the steady growth of Augustana's international studies program, stems from Sirevaag's quiet, incisive leadership.

A performer, discerning critic, and profoundly knowledgeable student of piano literature, Dr. Sirevaag amassed a considerable collection of music scores and artists' recordings. In addition to his love of travel and music, he also enjoyed working in his garden.

Dr. Sirevaag is survived by wife, formerly Mary Nelson; son and daughter-in-law, Drs. Erik and Anita Sirevaag, Granite City, Ill.; grandson, Kristofer Sirevaag, Granite City, Ill.; and extended family members, Dr. Dorothy Parkander and Dr. Ann Boaden, Rock Island.

Remembrances may be left on his obituary page.

Memorial services will be 1 p.m. Saturday at St. John's Lutheran Church in Rock Island. Friends may greet the family beginning at noon at the church. Wheelan-Pressly Funeral Home in Rock Island is assisting with arrangements. Memorials may be made to Augustana College.