Former Oil-Dri Executive V.R. Swede Roskam Passes Away

V.R. "Swede" Roskam

V.R. “Swede” Roskam

Former Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) President V.R. “Swede” Roskam died unexpectedly in Wheaton, IL, on March 13, 2015 at the age of 85.


Swede was born on October 16, 1929 in Iowa Falls, IA, to Albert Ollie Roskam and Maureen Kathleen Varnum. He graduated from West Waterloo High School in Waterloo, IA, in 1947 and from Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington, MO, in 1949. He graduated from Knox College in Galesburg, IL, in 1951 and received a regular commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army. He served as a Company Commander in the Korean War.

On July 26, 1952 he married the love of his life, Martha Lou Jacobsen in Oak Park, IL, and were married for 62 years. Together they had five children. Swede enjoyed a career in sales with several companies before joining the Oil-Dri Corporation of America where he worked for 45 years. He retired in 2014 as Vice President of Sales.

Swede also served as President of MACA from 1982-1983. He was the first allied industry member to be elected president and served during MACA’s 25th anniversary year. Swede continued to be active in MACA, including being the unofficial photographer at meetings and serving as editor of MACA’s newsletter for a few years.

“Swede was one of those active members who’s enthusiasm was contagious,” said Bonnie McCarvel, Executive Director at MACA.  “He was so proud and excited to be a part of MACA and wanted to do whatever he could do to help the industry. He helped to lay the groundwork which MACA continues to build upon.”

Swede also encouraged his colleague, Terry Kippley, while at Oil Dri, to be active in MACA. Kippley went on to become MACA President in 1999-2000.

“Swede was an original. He had such passion,” said Kippley, who is now Senior Vice-President at Aceto Corp. “He was always on me to be a good father and role model to my family. He always loved to say that life was about choices, and the only thing that matters in the end is what one does for the Lord.”

Swede founded Educational Assistance Ltd., a nonprofit scholarship program that enabled 10,000 students to attend college. In 1986, he and his wife Martha received the Knox College Alumni Achievement Award. In 1988 they received the President’s Volunteer Action Award from President Reagan, the nation’s highest honor for volunteer service.

In 2001, while traveling in Viet Nam, Swede and Martha purchased several U.S. military dog tags that were being sold as souvenirs. Upon their return to the U.S., they hired a private investigator to discover the whereabouts of the American military personnel or their next of kin. They spent several years returning these tags to their rightful owners.

He was an active member of the Glen Ellyn Evangelical Covenant Church in Glen Ellyn, IL. He is survived by his wife Martha Roskam (nee Jacobsen), Stephen Andrew Roskam (Chandler), Jonathan Richard Roskam (Phyllis), Sarah Jayne Roskam, Peter James Roskam (Elizabeth) and Maribeth Roskam Coote (Jonathan) and his grandchildren Jacob Roskam, Mica Roskam, Hilary Roskam, Jonathan Roskam, Lily Roskam, Jayne Averitt, Bryan Simpson (Katie), Hope Simpson, Gracey Roskam, Frances Roskam, Stephen Roskam II, Alec Roskam, Ian Coote, Peter Coote, Jonathan Coote, Jr., and Philip Coote. He is also survived by his sister Vee Anne Roskam Angilley and step sister Delores Stanley Zimmer. He was predeceased by his grandson James Schoales Roskam.

The Visitation is on Friday, March 20 at Hultgren Funeral Home, 304 N. Main St. in Wheaton, IL from 3:00 pm to 9:00 pm. The Funeral service is on Saturday, March 21 at College Church, 332 E. Seminary Avenue in Wheaton, IL at 2:00 pm.

In lieu of flowers memorial gifts may be sent to support Bible translation as follows:

Payable to Wycliffe Associates, P.O. Box 620368, Orlando, FL 32862

Please include on the check memo: Scott Crickmore/Ministry Account M10445/Roskam Memorial

For more information, visit the Hultgren Funeral Home and Cremation Services Website.