Roald Christian Haugen was born in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, on May 23, 1928. He was the fifth of six children born to a Norwegian immigrant dad, and a first generation mom whose parents were Norwegian immigrants. Roald attended Eau Claire High School, graduating in 1946. During his senior year, he played on the Eau Claire High School Old Abes basketball team that lost the state championship game by three points. Throughout his life he would remark about that state tournament, and how he lamented that the Old Abes came three points short! Following high school, he attended two small private Christian colleges before transferring to UW Eau Claire where he graduated. On June 20, 1952, Roald married Marilyn Ruth Siggens. They had dated for 5 ½ years prior to their wedding, and they were married for 65 ½ years. Theirs was a love story spanning 71 years.
In the fall of 1952 Roald and Marilyn moved to Chicago where he began graduate studies at Northern Baptist Seminary. Marilyn taught school in Berwyn, Illinois. Growing up a Chicago Cub fan, Roald capitalized on the opportunity while he lived in Chicago to take in some games at Wrigley Field. Because of the influence of pastoral leaders Roald respected in Chicago, including Pastor Gordon Johnson, Roald transferred to Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. Gordon Johnson was serving a church in Chicago that was part of a movement associated with the Baptist General Conference (the BGC movement is today called “Converge”). Bethel Seminary had ties with the BGC. Following graduation from Bethel Seminary, he served for a time as a student pastor in Richland Center, WI, before becoming the lead pastor in 1957 of a church in Menominee, Michigan.
While in Menominee, two sons were born to Roald and Marilyn – Tim in February of 1958, and James in September of 1960. Roald was meaningfully engaged in his sons’ lives, and he wisely recognized the unique interests in each of his sons. He loved them both and supported their distinctive God-given talents and corresponding interests.
Roald served three BGC churches as a lead pastor over a span of 25 years – North Shore Church in Menominee, Michigan, Center Baptist Church in Omaha, Nebraska, and First Baptist Church in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. While he was a pastor in Sturgeon Bay, he had a weekly radio broadcast that aired on WDOR, “The Upward Look.”
After resigning from the church in Sturgeon Bay, Roald drew on some of his undergraduate training in education and had opportunity for a number of years to serve as a substitute teacher in the Sturgeon Bay Public Schools. Marilyn was a kindergarten teacher who taught school for 44 years, 24 of them in the Sturgeon Bay schools. For Roald, he became known as “Rev” to the students he served as a substitute in both the middle school and the high school.
Roald was a gospel man. He was gripped by grace. He oriented his life around Jesus, and the good news of Christ’s redeeming love most poignantly displayed at the cross. He believed the triumph of the cross was powerfully confirmed in the resurrection of Jesus.
Simplicity was a characteristic of his life. He prioritized the Lord Jesus, and he placed high value on family. He was lovingly devoted to his wife. He loved his sons and their families. He delighted in his six grandchildren, and he savored the privilege of visits from his great grandchildren. He personally met seven of his eight great grandchildren, with the eighth due to be born in March.
Roald passed quietly into the presence of His Savior, Jesus, on Thursday morning, February 1. His son, Tim, was right beside him when Roald took his last breath. Tim described the experience this way – one moment Tim was telling his dad he loved him, and in the very next moment Roald was hearing Jesus telling him He loved him.
Roald was preceded in death by his parents, Alfred and Dena Haugen, two sisters, May Haugen and Jenny Graves (Everett), two brothers, Alfred Haugen (Ruth), and Arnold Haugen, and his parents-in-law, Charlotte and John Siggens, and a brother-in-law, Ray Siggens (Peggy).
He is survived by his wife, Marilyn of Sturgeon Bay, his son, Tim (Ann) currently of Glenwood Springs, CO, his son, James, of Chicago, IL, six grandchildren, Karissa Marquez (Cory), Shelly Lettau (Ryan), Stacey Fall (Jonathan), Erik Haugen, Anika Haugen, and Kirsten Haugen, eight great grandchildren, a brother, Gordon Haugen (Shari) of North Aurora, IL, a sister-in-law, Ginny Haugen of Tennessee, and sixteen nephews and nieces.
A memorial service has been scheduled at First Baptist Church in Sturgeon Bay on Saturday, February 17, at 1 PM, with Pastor Tim Haugen and Pastor Cory Dahl officiating. A private family visitation and committal service will be held. A visitation time with family and friends is planned following the memorial service in the fellowship hall of First Baptist Church. Memorial gifts will be shared with Christian ministries close to the heart of the Haugen family.