A week shy of his 70th birthday, Roland died on July 24. We are so very grateful for his steady contributions to the newspaper—and to 15 other weekly newspapers North America to which he contributed New Quirks.
We know that New Quirks was a favorite column of our readers, but New Quirks was merely the tip of the iceberg for a wonderfully friendly man, who led a wonderfully generous and interesting life. (Some of the information that follows was submitted by Roland’s wife, Theodora T. Tilton.)
Born in Panama City, Florida, on August 2, 1945, he was the son of Col. Harold L. Sweet and Mary Sue Sweet. He graduated from Suitland High School (Class of 1963), and from 1965 to 1971, served in the U.S. Air Force as an Air Traffic Controller, including a tour of duty in Thailand. Returning stateside, he attended University of Maryland and graduated with honors and a B.A. in 1972. He later earned an M.S. in Public Communication from Syracuse University (1984), earning the Newhouse School’s Wolseley Award for outstanding academic merit.
Most recently, in addition to writing his weekly column, Roland was the editor-in-chief of Log Home Living magazine, which he helped launch in 1989. Over the years, he was also editor of Log Homes Illustrated, Timber Homes Illustrated and Distinctive Wood Homes magazines. Yes, there is a theme here! He also authored Log Home Secrets of Success (2010) and 100 Best Log Home Floor Plans (2007). He developed and presented log home seminars all over the country.
He began his career as an editor The Syracuse New Times, a weekly newspaper, and wrote for a number of newspapers and special interest publications. He was also the co-author, with Chuck Shepherd and John J. Kohut, of several volumes of the popular “News of the Weird” series, which served as a springboard for his weekly syndicated column. He had an eye and fascination for human folly. With headlines like “Curses, Foiled Again” he profiled police stories about crimes gone stupidly wrong. In the spirit of classic newsrooms and tickertape reports, he collected these quippy stories and shared them each week with his fans.
He won three Ozzie Awards for Publishing Excellence, the Syracuse Press Club’s Lifetime Achievement award, and, perhaps most proudly, the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia’s Outstanding Tutor/Teacher Award for tutoring a Guatemalan immigrant in spoken and written English.
At the age of 52, Roland earned his Private Pilot’s license, and was qualified to fly single-engine light, complex, and tailwheel aircraft.
Roland was a fan of the Washington Nationals, DC’s baseball team who are enjoying a decent season. He had a succession of grateful rescue dogs, most recently, Pippa, and four foster elephants—Kibo, Shukuru, Ashaka, and Mbegu—that he helped sponsor. He loved spending time with his wife at their getaway in the Shenandoah Mountains and laughter shared with his legion of friends.
Roland is survived by his wife, Theodora T. Tilton; brother Samuel D. Sweet (Anne Corbett), and many nieces and nephews; and, by his readers throughout North America and in this very newspaper.
We are so very sorry to report the passing of Roland S. Sweet, the writer and curator for New Quirks.