Douglas “Dag” A. Rossman

Friday, August 7, 2015 4:57 pm

Douglas “Dag” A. Rossman, 79, of Decorah, died Thursday morning, July 23, 2015, at Aase Haugen Senior Services in Decorah. Memorial services are at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 9, at First United Methodist Church in Decorah, with Rev. John Caldwell officiating. Visitation begins at 1 p.m. Sunday, one hour before the service, at First United Methodist Church.

Douglas “Dag” A. Rossman was born July 4, 1936, in Waukesha, Wis., the son of Vernon and Josephine “Jo” (Athon) Rossman. In his elementary years, the family lived in Peoria and Kankakee, Ill., and Coatesville, Pa., following Vern’s career in the YMCA. He was a 1954 graduate of Princeton High School, in Princeton, N.J., a 1958 graduate of Southern Illinois University with a B.A. in zoology, and a 1961 graduate of the University of Florida (Gainesville) with a Ph.D in biology. He was married to Nita Kuster from 1960-1989 and they were blessed with two children:  Kathleen and Chuck. Dag was a biology professor, curator of amphibians and reptiles and director of the Museum of Natural Science at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, La. from 1963 until his retirement in 1998 at the end of the first semester. After his retirement, Dag created an exhibit at Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum entitled “Echoes of Odin: Norse Mythology in Scandinavia and America,” and served as a consultant for the Smithsonian traveling exhibition –“Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga” – at the Minnesota Science Museum. He was a research associate at Luther College biology department from 1999-2015, and was warmly welcomed by the Luther College and biology community. He was a member of these honorary societies: Phi Kappa Phi, Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Sigma and Sigma Xi. He was a member of Sons of Norway, and was a counselor and story-teller at Masse Moro, a Norwegian Heritage camp in Eau Claire County, Wis., many times. Dag first attended Masse Moro in 1979, and felt even than that it marked a major turning point in his life. Over a two week period of evening storytelling, he created the “World of Norse Mythology,” peopled it, and carried it through to Ragnarok. Dag returned almost every year, and it was at the Adult Heritage Week, prior to the kids camp in July 1988, that Dag met Sharon Bates. Following the 1989 camp sessions they decided to put their lives together and Sharon followed him to Baton Rouge and they were married May 5, 1990, at LSU’s Hilltop Arboretum with music provided by cardinals and mocking birds. They moved to Decorah in 1999. He was a member of the First United Methodist Church in Decorah and was president of Valdres 503 Sons of Norway in Decorah in 2008 and 2009. Dag loved Nordic Fest and, since 1989, every year during the Nordic Fest at the end of July, both children and adults have sat in rapt attention as Dag regaled them with Viking tales, tapping into their deeper meaning to reveal how those myths and legends could both reflect and benefit our modern world. Readers were captivated by his books The Dragonseeker Saga, Theft of the Sun and Other New Norse Myths and the Nine Worlds Sagas Walker in Shadows and Way of the Elves. Dag and his wife and artistic partner, Sharon, guest-curated Echoes of Odin: Norse Mythology in Scandinavia and America, “a dramatic, fantastic, edifying and thoroughly entertaining exhibition of Norse mythology, then and now.”

Dag is survived by his wife, Sharon of Decorah; one brother, Will (Kathy) Rossman of McKinney, Texas; his daughter, Kathleen Rossman of Baton Rouge, La,; his son, Chuck (Beth) Rossman of Greenwell Springs, La.; nine grandchildren; sons by marriage: Eric (Lori) Bates of Frisco, Texas, David (Kristine) Bates of Waukesha, Wis. and Doug Bates of Milwaukee, Wis.; four grandchildren; and also by nieces, nephews and cousins.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Vernon and Josephine. 

Fjelstul Funeral Home in Decorah is serving the family. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be given to Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, P.O. Box 379, 502 W. Water Street, Decorah, IA 52101, or to the giver’s choice.

Online condolences may be made at


Submit A Comment

Fill out the form to submit a comment. All comments require approval by our staff before it is displayed on the website.

Notify of
0 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments