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Roger Ernst

If it weren’t for his good friends, Marge and Larry Easton, and their gift of an LIR membership when he retired two years ago, our menu of courses would be without an outstanding presenter of literature themes.

Anyone attending his lectures will testify to his wide interest in literature and his deep perception of how our reading affects our lives. A native of Oshkosh (he even worked in the old Dodge garage here for a spell), he has a solid academic background. After earning his bachelor’s degree in English and speech at Stevens Point, he studied at Colorado College and was awarded a master’s degree in humanities.

During his 33-year tenure at Neenah High School where he taught English and speech, he was English department chair for 20 years. He taught English composition at the high school level as an adjunct professor at UW Oshkosh and currently conducts a speech course at UW Fox Valley.

Interestingly, Roger’s fondest memories as an educator are not strictly academic. As a forensics coach, he found his interaction with the students in non-classroom settings to be the most satisfying. He considers the camaraderie of those years particularly memorable, and he felt valuable as a confidant to many of his students.

Roger is quick to dispel the myth that substitutes teaching is the tough task many claims it to be. He has been there, and as he says, “Kids can tell who you are when you walk into the room, and they respond positively if you don’t preach to them … and keep the rules simple and fair.”

His LIR affiliation has filled a need for him. He says, “You’ve got to have some kind of professional relationship outside the home … be with people who have lived life and want to share it.”

Four or five of his friends have joined LIR because of his good experience -an example of the value of one-on-one invitations to join us. In our courses on transcendentalism, a subject he used to teach in high school, he found it refreshing to cover the same material “from the other side,” and to be with people who have lived a life and can reflect on the meaning of things which before were encased in books and conjecture.

He remembers telling his students, “The final exam is out there in the real world somewhere, not so much in what you give back to me on a formal test. Much is as yet undiscovered. You will learn by living and applying to your lives what you have read and learned here.”

Roger enjoys poking around in flea markets and has a penchant for collecting certain antiques. We only hope his wife, Margaret, a librarian at the Appleton Public Library, can continue to find room for them. The couple has two grown daughters. Sarah is a computer trainer in Silicon Valley, and Beth is an engineer for Andersen Windows in Minneapolis.