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Remembering Dr. Scott as a ‘man of deep passion’

November  18, 2013

Dr. Larry Scott, professor emeritus of Scandinavian. See more photos from Dr. Scott's life at Augustana.

Dr. Larry Scott, professor emeritus of Scandinavian, died Saturday, Nov. 16. A memorial gathering for Dr. Scott will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 25, at Wheelan Pressly Funeral Home, 3030 7th Ave., Rock Island.

Described as “bold and brash and brilliant,” Dr. Scott is remembered by one of his former students, Meghan Kelly ’99 Cooley, as a “melting pot of a man.”

“He was able to discuss the details of the Swedish health system or laugh at a bawdy joke, sit at a Viennese coffee house or a local tavern for a brew, said Cooley, who as a student traveled to Vienna in 1998 as part of study abroad program with Dr. Scott. "He was a man of strong opinions and deep passions.”

A year after graduation Cooley came back to the college to work in admissions and saw her former professor from a new standpoint. “After traveling months overseas and maintaining a friendship almost 20 years, I knew him to be loyal almost to a fault, sustain a temper to rival any, and harbor a hidden sensitivity. He cared deeply about his students, regardless of major.”

Cooley noted that his “laughter and insight will be remembered by many.”

Dr. Wendy Hilton-Morrow ’94, chair of the department of communication studies and a former Scandinavian studies minor, said, “Dr. Scott was a fierce protector of Augustana’s Swedish heritage. He recognized its significance to understanding our institutional identity still today, more than 150 years after our college’s founding.”

Dr. Scott joined the Augustana faculty in 1981 and retired in 2013. He chaired the Department of Scandinavian and led many successful international study programs, including the Augustana Summer School in Sweden, based in Grebbestad. In 1996, King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden named him a Knight of the Order of the Polar Star (Riddare av Nordstjärneorden).

Larry E. "Lars" Scott was born July 3, 1947, in Oak Park, Ill., a son of William W. and Hilda Melin Scott. He graduated from Lake Park High School. He went on to study at the University of Washington, Seattle, earning a B.A. in Swedish in 1969, an M.A. in Scandinavian languages and literature in 1970, and a Ph.D. in Scandinavian languages and literature in 1973.

Always an outstanding student, he earned many honors. In 1965, he was a National Merit Semi-finalist and state scholarship winner. He graduated cum laude from the University of Washington and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. In 1979, he earned a Royal Swedish Embassy Research Grant.

His 1990 book, "The Swedish Texans," was published by the University of Texas Institute of Texan Culture at San Antonio, and is considered the definitive study of Swedish immigrants in Texas.

He was a member of the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study, the Modern Language Association, the American-Scandinavian Association, the Swedish-American Historical Association, and Phi Beta Kappa. He was a past president of the Augustana Historical Society.

A long-time admirer of the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, Dr. Scott gathered with students on Sunday evenings to discuss Tolkien's work, and also taught a course about "The Lord of the Rings" and other works.

Dr. Scott led Augustana’s annual Sankta Lucia celebrations, introducing generation of Augustana students, staff member, their families and the broader Quad-Cities community to this and other beloved Scandinavian traditions.

“I smile when I think of the hundreds of students Lars shepherded through the Sankta Lucia festival at Augustana over the decades," said Dr. Hilton-Morrow. "He was able to turn even the most reluctant of college men into respectable ‘star boys’ for the occasion.”

Prior to teaching at Augustana, Dr. Scott was an instructor at Edmonds Community College, Edmonds, Wash.; an acting assistant at the University of California, Los Angeles; an instructor at Pomona College, Claremont, Calif.; and an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

A memorial gathering will be held at Wheelan-Pressly Funeral Home, Rock Island.