ALBANY – Charles “Charlie” Phillip Rougle, Ph.D., aged 73, died on May 17, 2020, in Albany, New York, after a year-long struggle with leukemia. He passed peacefully with his wife and daughter by his side at Albany Medical Center.
Charles greeted his parents, Rose Mary and Jake, at St. John’s Hospital, in Helena, Montana on September 4, 1946. He grew up in Helena where he developed a love for the outdoors, fishing, and playing the cello. At the age of 14 he joined the Helena Symphony Orchestra and was featured as a soloist when he was 16. When in high school, thanks to Montana’s first teacher of Russian, Kathleen Ramey, he studied Russian, the subject that would shape the rest of his life.
Graduating from Helena Senior High School in 1963, Charles spent one year at Montana State University before being awarded a scholarship to finish his B.A. in Russian Language at DePauw University, in Greencastle, Indiana. In 1967, he graduated magna cum laude and was awarded a fellowship to Indiana University in Bloomington. That summer he visited the Soviet Union as part of the university’s Russian studies program and met Eija Kivilinna in Leningrad. A native of Finland, Eija, also studying Russian at Helsinki University, was a summer tour guide for Finnish tourists in the Soviet Union. A year and a steady stream of letters later, Charles and Eija were married in Helsinki. Last June, they celebrated their fifty-first wedding anniversary.
In 1969 Charles earned his M.A. in Russian Language and Literature from Indiana University. He spent the next 16 years in Sweden due to his opposition to the Vietnam War. When Solzhenitsyn received the Nobel Prize in literature in 1970, Charles served as one of his interpreters. In 1977 he earned his Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literatures from the University of Stockholm, focusing his research and writing on the early Soviet period. From the late 1970s until the mid-1980s he lectured at the Universities of Stockholm and Uppsala. At the same time, he began a parallel career as a translator and editor from Russian and Swedish into English. Charles continued to work in this field to the end of his life, compiling an extraordinary record of achievement. As his colleague Timothy Sergay wrote upon learning of Charles’s passing,
The field of Russian translation, especially academic translation, has lost a prolific and scrupulous practitioner of translation from multiple languages, who for many years gave an authoritative English voice to the latest achievements in Scandinavian Slavic studies. He was also a scholar of Isaak Babel, modernism, utopianism, science fiction, and translation itself; and the translator of novels by Valentin Kataev (The Embezzlers, trans. 1975) and Aleksandr Bogdanov (Red Star, trans. 1984) and intricate culturological works by Boris Groys and Magnus Ljunggren. Most recently he translated a number of studies on contemporary Russian art for the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art in Moscow.
In 1985, Charles accepted a position as a professor of Russian language and literature in the Department of Slavic Languages at the State University of New York, Albany. Here, he taught courses on the theory and practice of translation in the newly-established post-M.A. program “Certificate of Advanced Study in Russian Translation,” as well as various M.A.- and B.A.-level courses. For many years he served as director of undergraduate studies in the Slavic Department (later reorganized as a Russian program), and ran the Russian University in the High School program, which helped support the teaching of the Russian language in schools in the Capital District and beyond. His university service included such challenging stints as chair of the combined Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures, interim chair of the Department of Hispanic and Italian Studies, and also chair of the newly formed Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures. His contributions were recognized with a University at Albany Excellence in Academic Service Award in 2001–2002. Awarded a Fulbright Teaching Fellowship, he spent the 2005–2006 academic year in Moscow, where he served as academic co-director of the Center on Russia and the United States at Moscow University. After nearly thirty years at the University at Albany, Charles retired in 2012.
Charles had a passion for learning. A talented polyglot, with near-native fluency in Russian, Swedish and Finnish, he taught himself to read and speak (with varying degrees of fluency), German, French, Spanish, Italian, Polish, Ukrainian, Romanian, and Slovenian. Inspired by the fact that his paternal grandparents emigrated from Slovenia to East Helena in 1894, he spent the last three summers in Ljubljana, studying Slovenian, researching his family tree, and reconnecting with his relatives, who became very dear to him.
A mechanic’s son, Charles also enjoyed using his hands to work with wood, play the cello, garden, and cook. (His grandchildren, Erik and Oskar, refused to eat any other bread than “Grandpa’s Bread”!) He became proficient in the art of intarsia, a variety of wood inlaying that requires carving and assembling small pieces of exotic wood into bas-relief pictures. He won a number of top regional prizes for his work. A talented cellist, upon retiring he returned to his music, studying cello privately, attending summer workshops such as the Bach Cello Suites Workshop, and playing in UAlbany’s University Symphony Orchestra.
Charles was a devoted husband and father, and treasured his role of Grandpa to Erik and Oskar. He was thrilled to see them grow and develop, and would proudly share their latest photos with his friends. He would drive across the city daily to meet his “favorite chipmunk” and “buckaroo” at the school bus stop and was one of their biggest supporters in everything they did. At every soccer game Grandpa was there.
Charles is survived by his wife Eija; son Jaakko of Helsinki, Finland; daughter Ida-Marie Lindberg (Andrew) of East Greenbush, New York; two younger brothers, James (Lin Forrest) of Kalispell, Montana, and William (Tara) of Alexandria, Virginia; two nieces, Wolfie “Kait” (Michael Smith) of Chico, California and Eliana of Alexandria, Virginia; two grandsons, Erik and Oskar of East Greenbush, New York; and many other loving friends and relatives.
He will be deeply missed by all of us, as well as by a wide circle of colleagues and former students in this country and in Europe. His courage and spirit, his integrity and wit, his honesty and generosity will live on in our hearts.
Due to restrictions necessitated by COVID-19, funeral services will be privately held. Charles will be laid to rest at the Albany Rural Cemetery.
Special thanks to the doctors, nurses, and staff at New York Oncology Hematology at Albany Medical Center. Those who wish, may make a memorial contribution to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society https://www.lls.org, Cellospeak https://www.cellospeak.org/donate/ or Northeastern Woodworkers Association https://woodworker.org/. To leave a message of condolence for the family, please visit https://www.hansfuneralhome.com/charles-phillip-rougle-ph-d/
Click here to view Charles’ resting place in Section 199 of Albany Rural Cemetery, Menands, NY 12204.
Dear Eija, We are deeply saddened by your loss in this difficult time. Our thoughts and prayers are with you, Jaak, Ida Marie, Andy, Erik and Oskar.
Johanna and Bob Shogan.
Dear Ida-Marie & Family,
My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this time. There’s no doubt that Charles left his footprint in this world, and helped enrich the lives of so many around him. His legacy will live on through the countless lives he touched in such profound ways. May you all find some peace as you celebrate the life of such an extraordinary person.
Ida Marie and Family,
So sorry for the loss of your dear father, grandfather and husband. Despite all the sorrow you are feeling, I can’t help but think of how fortunate you are to have had such an amazing person in you life. You are in my thoughts.
The Haynes Family
Ida-Marie & koko perhe,
Eino Leinon sanoin:
Hiljaa sa kätesi ojensit,
otit pois sen vieläkin hiljempaa,
ylt’ympäri puut ne helisi
ja kuurassa kimmelsi luminen maa;
ma kuulin askelet eroovat,
näin varren vienon, mi vieri pois,
ja yksin yössä ma seisoin, – oli
kuin jotakin kaunista kadonnut ois.
Amos, Anna & Matthew Haynes
Kära Eija, Ida-Marie med familjen och Jaska
“Det händer men sällan att en av oss verkligen ser den andre:
ett ögonblick visar sig en människa som på ett fotografi
men klarare och i bakgrunden någonting
som är större än hennes skugga”. (T. Tranströmer)
Varmt deltagande i sorgen!
Pirjo och Jori Lahdenperä, Joakim Åkerfeldt
Colleen Chen Gutierrez
Dear Ida and Eija,
I’m so sorry to hear about the lost of your father and husband. From what I can remember growing up as kids, your father was always so gentle and loving to you Ida. May God rest his soul and may you find peace and joy in remembering all the good times you all had shared together.
Ernie & Linda Scatton
Deepest condolences and mist heartfelt sympathy.
I was so sorry to read of Charlie’s death. I knew him from the Humanities Building at UAlbany. I remember him as a quiet, humble man who was respected by students and colleagues alike. Please accept my condolences.
Dear Eija, On behalf of the University at Albany Emeritus Center, we are saddened to learn of Charles’ passing. As you know, he played an important role in chairing the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures and bringing together what were several separate language departments. He was highly regarded by students and his faculty colleagues. I was fortunate over the years to have met with him and chatted on various topics. On a personal note, my wife and I took several Baltic cruises which included stops in Helsinki and, I always joked that we might see him as we walked through various parts of the city.
Sorrell Chesin, Ph.D.
SUNY Albany Emeritus Center
Please accept our warmest condolences, we are deeply sorry for your loss.
Please know we are thinking of you and your family during this difficult time.
Elfrida and Jorgaq Kita
Hello Eija and family,
I read about Charles’s death in the Times Union and wanted to express my sympathy to you and your family. I haven’t seen you in quite a while, but your kindness and thoughtfulness always stays in my mind. May time bring you peace, rest and joy.
I am so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you all at this difficult time. Dr. Rougle was an amazing man and professor and he will be greatly missed.
Im so sorry for your loss charlie was a great friend .my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. God bless
I am so sorry for your loss Eija, Ida-Marie and Jaakko and your families.
During my two visits in Albany staying in your house we had such a special time with literature, music (the cello) and talks in several languages. Charlie was a real humanistic individual in so many aspects. A reader, a musician, a writer and most of all, he loved his family and took part in daily life. I think of you all these difficult days and remember Charlie with warmth in my heart.
Mary Ingemansson with family, Färlöv and Älmeboda Sweden
Det finns ett hav som ingen ser.
Det finns en grav där ingen dör.
Det finns en sol som ej går ner.
Det finns en strand i varje själ.
The Zaharia family
Dear Rougle family
Our deepest sympathies go out to you during these difficult and trying times. Our memories of Charles are of a warm and welcoming person, always ready to help, full of anecdotes and with a varied and vast knowledge of subjects ranging from literature to car mechanics. We’ll always remember his kindness in helping us adjust to a new life. He will be deeply missed.
Bill, Jim and Katie, and Rougle family. we were very sorry to hear of Charlie’s death. Needless to say, way too young. He certainly lead an energetic and very interesting life. If only he had some more time. We always enjoyed our visits with him when he was in Helena. Our sincere condolences to all the Rougle family from the Leaphart clan. Bill & Babs Leaphart