A Tribute: Michael M. Roan (1938-2014)
We learned recently of the sad passing of Michael M. Roan on January 8 of natural causes. Michael was one of the people responsible for the Forum coming into existence. It was 26 years ago that on a trip to Norway, he visited his cousin Jakob Sverdrup, who was then Executive Secretary for the Norwegian Nobel Institute. Among other things, they discussed the possibility of a collaboration between the Institute and a peacemaking event in the U.S.
On his return, Michael explored various possibilities for such an event with Bishop David W. Preus of the American Lutheran Church. As a result, the Presidents of U.S. colleges founded by Norwegian immigrants (Augsburg, Augustana-Sioux Falls, Concordia-Moorhead, Luther, St. Olaf and Pacific Lutheran University) were asked if they would sponsor a Nobel Peace Prize Forum. Their positive response, together with the very important founding leadership of former U.S. Vice President Walter Mondale and former Minnesota Governor Al Quie, resulted in the inaugural Nobel Peace Prize Forum in 1989. Just six years later, along with Lynn Elling and World Citizen Inc., Michael was a driving force in the creation of a related Festival for youth.
This was not all. In 1986 Michael had been instrumental in founding and providing executive leadership for the Tandem Project, whose goal was to eliminate all forms of intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief. As Director of the Tandem Project, Michael spent much of his time in New York working tirelessly for implementation of U.N. Declarations aimed at ending intolerance and supporting peace among nations and peoples.
Michael was a creative and persistent individual. He wore his convictions on his sleeve and poured his seemingly endless energy into them. His passion for peace, his passion for religious freedom, and his passion for Norway were some of the causes that fueled his inner fire.
Michael provided invaluable service as an adviser to the Festival and as an untitled executive secretary during the early years of the Nobel Peace Prize Forum. Subsequently he kept in close touch with us, always willing to lend advice, support and ideas. If a measure of one’s life is the contribution to the common good, Mike set an example for all of us. He will be missed.
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(Posted by David Preus & Maureen Reed)