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Home » Campus News Latest » Obituaries » Aaron Everett, Former Faculty

Aaron Bernard Everett May 16, 1926 October 27, 2019 A funeral service was  held for Aaron at the Church of St. Peter, 1801 Broadway Ave, St Peter on November 5.

Aaron Everett was born to a modest family in Liberal, Kansas to Stella M Everett and Royal T Everett. He was one of four children. He was very close to his younger sister, Mary Jean. Aaron was meant to be a teacher since from early days when he taught paper doll students. His father Roy was not impressed. His mother understood. He excelled in high school and graduated one year early.

At seventeen he took a crying mother to sign for him to join the Navy to fight in World War II. He served his country honorably from 1943 to 1946 in the Pacific Theater. He was part of the second invasion of Guam and was under the command of the Marines who served under the Australians. Because they were at sea for two months waiting for orders to invade, he heard “Waltzing Matilda” being played 24/7 and later on could not hear that song anymore. During the war, Aaron was assigned to communications because he typed over 100 words a minute on a manual typewriter. One day, an impatient order came over the wire and Aaron typed back “Hold your horses”.

Unfortunately, the impatient” Admiral” on the other end did not appreciate the back talk. Aaron was assigned to crack coral on Guam for awhile. To pass the time while waiting to fight, the soldiers played a lot of poker. Aaron was very good at math and was very good at poker. He won about $10,000 during the war but upon returning home, he gambled it away. So, when he had to get home to Liberal, Kansas after the war, he had very little money left and went to the bus station and asked the ticket agent how close he could get to Liberal.

The ticket agent said, “You have just enough money to get you all the way home”. His card playing buddies were all Catholics from Chicago and convinced him to convert to Catholicism. His father was horrified as he was not a fan of Catholics. But Aaron was a devout Catholic all his life and became an expert in the Catholic theology. After the war, the Navy wanted Aaron to become an officer and at first, he liked the idea and they enrolled him at the University of Idaho. He initially was part of the ROTC program but soon found that his love of Foreign languages was stronger than the desire to continue with the military. He finished his undergraduate degree from Idaho with honors and applied to the University of Oregon at Eugene in 1950 to work on his Master’s degree in French Literature. Aaron had a strong perfectionist streak and would practice French sounds for hours on end until the pronunciation was perfect.

But life would change for Aaron in Eugene as he took a fancy to a young lady, Mary Rogolino, who was working on her PhD in Spanish. But Mary was dating another man and Aaron had to figure out a way to get an edge. He became Mary’s confidant and helped her through some difficult times. He asked her to marry him three times and she said “No” two times. But as they say, the third time is the charm. They were married in Eugene, Oregon at 8:15am on May 14, 1949. Mary wanted to introduce Aaron to Mexican culture, so they drove their 4-cylinder Anglia into the mountains of Mexico. They had very little money and slept in their car with Aaron’s feet hanging out of the doors. They had no idea that there were so many opportunities to be mugged but it all turned out well. This was the beginning of their life of extensive travel. In 1950,

Aaron and Mary went to Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa where Aaron taught Spanish. Mary worked in the typing office with some very colourful fellow employees. In 1954, they continued their adventures where Aaron took a position at Arizona State University teaching French. The climate in Arizona was good for growing dates. Aaron fell in love with dates and but found they were not kind to his expanding waistline. 1954 took the young to Philadelphia to work on Aaron’s PhD in French Literature at University of Pennsylvania. During this time, Mary was also ambitious and trilingual and worked on activities in support of Los Alamos Laboratories in the University President’s office. In 1955, Aaron took a position at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT where he taught French. One auspicious day, Mary was at the dentist and he casually mentioned “Congratulations on your baby”. Mary was shocked and did not know she was pregnant but was overjoyed.

1956 brought Mary and Aaron much joy when they finally welcomed a daughter, Cathy, into the world. Wanting more children, the couple adopted a son Tom in 1959. He was of Italian heritage as was Mary. The family was now complete. In 1961 Aaron was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to teach French at a boy’s high school, Lycee de Garcon in Metz, France for one year. Upon arriving in France Cathy had developed an unknown allergy that caused the five-year-old to appear pregnant. French doctors came to the rescue immediately diagnosing a common problem among the French: allergy to overindulgence in cheese, chocolate and nuts. Rather than prescribing a drug, the doctor recommended eating artichokes. This solved this health dilemma.

In 1962, the family moved to Yellow Springs, Ohio where Aaron taught French at the avant-garde Antioch College. At Antioch, Aaron developed a novel and creative method to teach second year French. His approach was the opposite of traditional methods of teaching. He enrolled all second-year French students in one class. He used a separate classroom for each individual language skill, such as reading, grammar, conversation and listening. The students would make up their own schedules every Monday and go from classroom to classroom depending on what they had signed up for. Aaron projected constantly changing pictures French scenery in the hallways and filled the air with French music creating an entire French experience. The program was very popular with the students. Aaron loved music and took violin lessons in Yellow Springs from a family friend. He spent his life learning.

In 1966, Aaron received a grant from the Peace Corps to oversee the teaching of English in Colombian schools. Always up for an adventure, the family moved to Bogota, Colombia during a time of strife between rebels and the Colombian government. Cathy and Tom attended an English school in Bogota and the family traveled extensively in Colombia and parts of South America. 1967 would see the family return to Ohio. In 1968, Dean Ferber from Gustavus Adolphus College heard about Aaron’s unique teaching methods and invited Aaron for an interview. He was very impressed, and Aaron was introduced to Dr. Carlton who had one lingering issue to discuss, “I hope you don’t mind being here among practicing Lutherans”. Aaron responded, “Not if you don’t mind being around a practicing Catholic.” To that Dr. Carlton responded, “Thank God you are a practicing Christian”. They both had a good chuckle. Coming from Antioch where many of the students were from New York and were very outspoken and always challenging the professors, Aaron found a vast difference with a primarily Scandinavian culture. Over the years at Gustavus, Aaron became a favourite of many students as he was a great teacher but also an astute advisor to students as to their strengths and what majors they should pursue.

Many would comment later about what a great mentor he was. Aaron was also an avid swimmer but not had learned to swim until he was 35 years old, almost drowning as a young man. He thought everyone should know how to swim. He took it upon himself to develop and teach swimming lesson for adults in St Peter. He did this for many years for many grateful students. He was also an art lover and painted many canvases that decorated their home. Aaron’s son Tom was a gifted athlete and musician. He took Aaron into a whole new world of sports and Aaron proudly drove his young athletic son to very early morning hockey practices and became an avid sports fan. In 1987, Aaron was invited to be an exchange Professor at Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka Japan. He had been studying Japanese for some time and had become literate. He taught first year students English since his Japanese was quite good. Mary took a position as well teaching second year students English. In 1990, Aaron retired from Gustavus and accompanied Mary back to Kansai Gaidai where she was offered a position to teach English. He welcomed the time to be able to study Japanese and Japanese culture. They traveled the country extensively. They lived there for four years. Another passion was scuba diving. He traveled widely to scuba dive. He and son Tom went diving together. Aaron felt very alive diving and enjoyed the beauty. Aaron was also a bit of a math whiz, having developed charts and calculations for analyzing various stocks. At first, these handwritten charts covered the walls of his basement. Later he purchased a computer and converted them to spreadsheets so that the charts were very automatic. He excelled at investing and took great pleasure in it. At the time his calculations were converted to spreadsheets, his son in law, who was an engineer, commented that it was interesting that Aaron was using derivative equations for the calculations. Aaron said “Oh I did not know that. I just knew what calculations I needed.” His son in law shook his head and commented “You just figured out calculus when the rest of us go to school to learn it”. That was Aaron, work on a task until you get it right, no matter how difficult.

Mary and Aaron traveled extensively for the 70 years that they were married. They traveled all throughout the United States, South America, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Canada, Vietnam, Cambodia, St Pierre Miquelon and others. They loved seeing other cultures and enjoying the beautiful sights around the world. Mary was good at finding out the good places to go to really experience the places in depth. Aaron and Mary lived in St. Peter for 51 years and had the good fortune to have three wonderful grandchildren, James, Lauren and Kyle who have remained close to them during their lives.