Roger Mosvick guided members of Macalester College's debate teams in competitions against students from some of the country's most prestigious universities and, more often than not, won.
For more than a decade, he taught students to construct logical arguments and defend their positions. He felt strongly that all students should have organized debate available to them, said his high school sweetheart and wife of 68 years, Nona Marie Mosvick.
His debaters routinely collected top honors at meets and won a national championship in 1969. Many students went on to be highly successful in law, politics and "all kinds of professions," including the late Kofi Annan, who won a Nobel Peace Prize and served as secretary-general of the United Nations, said Mosvick's son, Mark.
"He had the ability to coach and take talented people and encourage them, inspire them," said David Lanegran, who was on one of Mosvick's Macalester debate teams and now teaches geography at the private liberal arts college in St. Paul. "He found kids who were sharp and made them sharper. He turned them into terrific debaters."
Mosvick, 87, died on Thanksgiving Day of natural causes.
Mosvick was already accomplished when he graduated in 1948 from high school in Minot, N.D., where he was student body president and earned all-state honors in football and music. He also won accolades in oratory and creative writing.
As a teenager, he played trumpet with Roger Mosvick and the Rhythmaires, a jazz band that he founded. The ensemble played throughout North Dakota, Montana and Minnesota. His mother helped book the shows and his father drove the ensemble to gigs, the family said.
He graduated from Macalester in 1952 and taught at Henry Sibley High School in Mendota Heights, where he founded the school's speech and debate teams, which won state titles in 1954 and 1955. He returned to his alma mater in 1956 and taught communications until his retirement in 2004, the second-longest tenure in Macalester history.
Mosvick earned a master's degree and a doctoral degree in organizational communications from the University of Minnesota. As a side job, he taught courses in the University of St. Thomas' executive MBA program.
But Mosvick's influence went beyond academia. He formed a consulting business and brought his expertise to Fortune 500 companies, such as Honeywell, 3M and IBM, where he taught executives the finer points of persuasion and public speaking.
He traveled to four continents teaching corporations and government agencies how to hold successful meetings, advice that led to his book, "We've Got to Start Meeting Like This: A Guide to Successful Meeting Management," which has been translated into French and Chinese.
"He was at the forefront of small-group communication and how to run a meeting," Lanegran said.
As a member of Macalester's Faculty Advisory Council, Mosvick helped guide the college through contentious times in the late 1960s as it sought to admit more students of color and provide educational opportunities for low-income students.
"He was committed to diversifying the faculty," said Leola Johnson, an associate professor of media and cultural studies who came to Macalester from the U at Mosvick's urging. "That was a brave position. He loved the school and he worked hard."
In 1995, Mosvick received the Thomas Jefferson Award, Macalester's highest honor.
Besides his wife, Nona Marie, and son Mark, Mosvick is survived by another son, Matt, four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Services have been held.