Robert Dwelle ’70

22 September 2016

Class: 1970

Major: Biology

Residence: Moscow, ID

Deceased: September 4, 2016

Alumni survivors: Mr. Richard Dwelle ’66 (Sibling), Ms. Anne Z. Dwelle ’70 W70 (Widow/Widower), Mrs. Meredith L. Sheehy ’48 W47 (Aunt)

Robert Dwelle, current   We lost a kind and gentle soul when Bob Dwelle died on Sunday due to complications of congestive heart failure. 

Bob was born on Dec. 3, 1946, in Neenah, Wis., to George and Edith Dwelle.

An active and athletic young man, Bob enjoyed camping and canoeing, and spent his college summers leading groups of teenage boys on lengthy canoe treks through Wisconsin lakes and Canadian wilderness. He attended Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., graduating with a degree in biology in 1970 and a wife: classmate Anne Zier. He went directly into a Ph.D. program in plant physiology, graduating in 1974 from University of Montana. 

Upon completion of his Ph.D., Bob accepted a position at the University of Idaho’s potato­ growing Experiment Station, located in the small farming town of Aberdeen, Idaho, where he and Anne soon added a pair of “tater tots” to the family with the arrival of daughters Janna in 1974 and Karin in 1977. He was deeply involved with the Aberdeen community, within the church (St. Paul’s Lutheran) as well as in community groups like Rotary and Girl Scouts (yes, Bob too), and served for some time on the Aberdeen City Council.

After a decade in Aberdeen, the family relocated to Moscow, where Anne had enrolled in the Ul’s Law School. With his typical generosity, Bob rearranged his career to accommodate this goal, and in the process discovered his deepest professional calling: teaching! The “temporary” teaching reassignment transformed into one of the most fulfilling aspects of his professional life.

The family remained in Moscow, where Bob continued to teach and rose to the position of plant science chair in the College of Agriculture. Bob’s graduate students became family friends, and wherever in the world the family traveled, they could be assured of welcomes in the homes of Bob’s colleagues and former students. During his career as a potato physiologist, “Dr. Spud” was able to indulge his own love of travel and instill the same in his daughters. The Dwelles’ 1984 European Sabbatical Oust one of many memorable trips) spanned six months and 18 European countries, all meticulously planned in advance by Bob (by letter in that pre-Internet era).

Bob had to retire early from the teaching he loved, when his cardiac health became precarious. Before ill health took its toll, he served on the Moscow School Board, but even later, he continued to serve in positions such as treasurer with Emmanuel Lutheran Church and preschool, and the Campus Christian Center.

“Plant-Guy” that he was, Bob delighted in his garden — and his garden will miss him … but not anywhere near as much as he’ll be missed by his family: wife, Anne; daughters, Karin Jones (Scott) of Snoqualmie, Wash., and Janna Smith (Jon) of Boise; grandchildren, Christian Vega and Elena Grace Vega (of Boise) and Clara Jones (of Snoqualmie); and brother, Richard Dwelle (Kathi) of Madison, Wis.

A memorial service to celebrate Bob was held Saturday, September 10, 2016 at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Moscow, Idaho.

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  • 2016-12-04 01:36:09
    Roger Forsberg ('67)

    In the process of searching for another Carl I learned just now about Bob's shocking & saddening demise earlier this year. 

    He & Jim Hardy had lived next to Dave Rowe & me on 4th Burton when he was a freshman and Dave & I were seniors.   The description in his obituary that he possessed a "gentle soul" was absolutely spot on -- Bob was a kind, pleasant, intelligent & mildly eccentric young man who often proclaimed the health benefits of brushing one's tongue with salt before brushing one's teeth.   He was one of the Carls that J Charles Wilson (one of my '67 classmates) chose as counselors for Camp Manitowish during the summer of 1967.  Bob was a perfect choice for Camp Manitowish, and both he & I loved the experience of introducing boys 8-15 to canoeing, camping, and outdoor life on the lakes of Northern Wisconsin.   [I did not know at that time that I'd be drafted out of grad school into the US Army, and thus the summer of 1967 has acquired an even more magical lustre in my memory.]

    Losing an acquaintance like Bob -- someone younger than I -- is always a sobering & sorrowful experience.  However, I hope that Ann & Bob/Ann's daughters know that there's one person in Minnesota who will always remember Bob with great fondness & affection.

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