MIDDLETON-Alexander Rolich, age 90, passed away on Sunday, March 23, 2014.
He was born to Belarusian and Ukrainian parents, Ivan and Anastasia (Nedza) Rolich on July 3, 1923, in Rocky Hill, CT. He felt close ties to both his Slavic heritage and his New England boyhood along the Connecticut River.
A high achiever throughout his life, he was a man of many interests. In his youth he enjoyed playing in a fife and drum corps (after paying his dues as mascot) and during high school was twice the bugling champion of the State of Connecticut. He attended Teacher’s College of Connecticut (now Central Connecticut State University) and later graduated from Columbia University with an undergraduate degree in Russian and Social Sciences, a certificate from the Russian (now Harriman) Institute, and Master’s Degrees in Russian Literature and Library Science. He also earned a Master’s Degree in Russian Language from Middlebury College in Vermont.
During World War II, he served in the Navy as Quartermaster on an amphibious assault ship in the South Pacific before returning to the US for officer training. He went on to use his Russian language skills as interpreter for touring artists, such as the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra, violinist David Oistrakh, and the Moscow Circus, which ended its US tour in Minneapolis with a performance that was taped for the Ed Sullivan Show.
On his way back to New York, he stopped in Madison to visit a friend and applied for a new position being established at the UW-Madison Memorial Library. He thus spent the next 37 years enjoying his work building the Library’s collections as Bibliographer for Slavic, East European, and Central Asian Studies. His early employment history also included work as a tracer and draftsman at Pratt & Whitney Aircraft under the tutelage of artist Alton Tobey; a librarian and technical translator for Mobil Oil; and a teacher of Russian at Long Beach H.S. (Long Island) and at Brooklyn College. Alex loved reading broadly, singing in various choruses, traveling throughout Europe, fishing from the Memorial Union piers, creative organic gardening in his back yard, and lunching with his B&B Club buddies. He was an early, strong advocate for civil rights and social justice.
He is survived by his wife, Andrea; his son, Eavon (Berkeley, CA); daughter, Ariana (New York, NY); sister, Nancy (Bill) Powell (Wethersfield, CT); by Andrea’s family; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his brother, Michael, and sister, Nina.
The family would like to thank his caregivers at UW Hospital & Clinics, Sterling House, and Middleton Village.
There will be no formal memorial service.
Those who wish, may donate to a fund set up for the purchase of Slavic print materials at the UW-Madison Memorial Library (UW Foundation-Alexander Rolich Memorial Fund; US Bank Lockbox 78807, Milwaukee, WI 53278).
Online condolences may be made at www.gundersonfh.com.
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