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Dr. John A. Sirevaag
Dr. John A. Sirevaag
April 01, 1925 - September 18, 2013
Rock Island, Illinois

Memorial Service: 1:00 p.m. Saturday September 21, 2013 at St. John's Lutheran Church, 4501 7th Ave., Rock Island, Ill.
Dr. John A. Sirevaag, Rock Island, died Wednesday, September 18, 2013, at home. Memorial services will be 1 p.m. Saturday, at St. John's Lutheran Church, Rock Island. Friends may greet the family from Noon until service time Saturday at the church. Wheelan-Pressly Funeral Home, Rock Island, is assisting with arrangements. Memorials may be made to Augustana College.

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, Rock Island, 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. He will also live on in the memories of the legion of students whose lives he touched over the decades. The family would like to gratefully acknowledge the love and support offered by his many dear friends and former colleagues.

Online condolences may be left at wheelanpressly.com.



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Mary, Erik, Anita and Christopher. I was so sad to hear about John. I am so thankful that Peggy and I got to see him in July. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you! Love, Julie and Family
-- Julie (Nelson) Brown

Mary and Erik, You are in my thoughts and prayers. John was my advisor when I was a German major at Augustana and I remember all the wonderful dinners at your home for his majors. He was a wonderful man who truly cared about his students. May God Bless you all.
-- Susan Granet

Nearly 50 years ago, I enrolled at Augie and selected Spanish as a foreign language. However, the Spanish classes were full, and I enrolled in German classes for two years. Had I taken Spanish, I might never have met Dr. Sirevaag. It amazed me that someone from Norway would be teaching German, Russian and French. Dr. Sirevaag was patient, gentle, quiet, and brilliant. He taught me to pronounce an umlaut and to deal with the very long words in the German language. I remember one professor at Augie who discouraged students from taking German, because two of her cousinbs were killed in World War I. I am so glad that I took German, because Dr. Sirevaag was one of the best educators that I ever knew. I will always remember his kindness and his dedication for teaching. I know that he will be missed by the many people who knew him.
-- Richard Dulaney

My condolences to Mary and family on John's passing. He was a real old world gentleman and a fine colleague. I'm sorry that I can't attend the services since we are out west until the end of the month.

Sincerely, Lou Belby, Spanish Dept.
-- Louis Belby

My mother was a colleague of Dr. Sirevaag, as a French Professor, and held him in high regard, both as a friend and a professional.
-- Walt Zuurdeeg

I was a German major at Augustana and was blessed to have Dr. Sirevaag as my instructor and faculty advisor from 1986-88. He was a kind and well-mannered gentleman, a truly kind, cosmopolitan gentleman. I'm glad I got to visit him five years ago. I'm very sorry to hear of his passing.
-- Roger Mueller