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 Theodore Huebner “Ted” Roethke

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Theodore Huebner “Ted” Roethke

  • Birth 25 May 1908 Saginaw, Saginaw County, Michigan, USA
  • Death 1 Aug 1963 Bainbridge Island, Kitsap County, Washington, USA
  • Burial Saginaw, Saginaw County, Michigan, USA
  • Plot Section 86 Lot 394 with his parents and sister.
  • Memorial ID 892

Pulitzer Prize-winning Poet. He grew-up on the westside of the Michigan’s Saginaw River. As the son of Otto Roethke, a German immigrant, much of his childhood revolved around the family’s 25-acre greenhouse. This greenhouse resonated in his memory with the subject of nature becoming a familiar subject in his writings. He gained notice with a speech about the Junior Red Cross, a very competent composition for a 13-year-old. He had two major tragedies as a teenager. First, his father's death to cancer in 1923, his uncle committed suicide the same year, and then the greenhouse was sold. He grieved his entire life over these losses, which shaped his writings. Being a creative person, he met conflict in a world expecting him to be a men’s man. He graduated magna cum laude in 1929 from the University of Michigan before entering law school at his family’s request; unhappy with that choice he dropped after a semester. Later, he earned a master’s degree in fine arts from the University of Michigan and began teaching English composition and poetry, along with coaching tennis, at Penn State University. In 1941, he published his first book, “Open House”, which was widely received by the public and other authors. His 1948 collection “The Lost Son” contained the poems “Child on Top of a Greenhouse,” “Orchids,” and “A Field of Light.” The author called the greenhouses “a universe, several worlds, which, even as a child, one worried about, and struggled to keep alive.” His book, “The Waking: Poems 1933-1953” received the Pulitzer Prize in spring of 1954. In 1959 the Pennsylvania University awarded him the Bollingen Prize for his book “Words for the Wind”. His final book, “The Far Field” was a reflection of his boyhood years playing behind his father’s greenhouse. He taught at Michigan State College, which is present-day Michigan State University and at colleges in Pennsylvania and Vermont, before joining the faculty of the University of Washington at Seattle in 1947 as an associate professor of English. He married Beatrice O'Connell in January 1953. Unexpectedly, he died of a heart attack while swimming in a friend's pool. Today, his childhood home is a museum, which is owned and operated by the Friends of Theodore Roethke Foundation and a State of Michigan Historical Site. His namesake foundation awards the Theodore M. Roethke Poetry Prize every three years, accompanied by a $3,000 check. A United States postage stamp was issued in 2002 to honor him.

Bio by: Linda Davis


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 892
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Theodore Huebner “Ted” Roethke (25 May 1908–1 Aug 1963), Find A Grave Memorial no. 892, citing Oakwood Cemetery, Saginaw, Saginaw County, Michigan, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .