Former U faculty member dies

Students and loved ones remember John Rauma’s love for architecture.

Emma Carew

University alumnus and longtime faculty member John Rauma died Dec. 15 from complications of diabetes.

Memorial services were Dec. 21 at Unity Church-Unitarian.

Rauma graduated from the University’s College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture in 1950 and did his graduate work at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Ralph Rapson, the college’s former head, appointed Rauma to the faculty in 1956.

“I had a high regard of him,” Rapson said.

He said Rauma’s work at Thorshov and Cerny, a Minneapolis architecture firm, as well as his architectural skills, his intellect and his presence among students, all impressed him.

“He was always very competent and very careful,” Rapson said. “He was a very hardworking man. Many times he would go well beyond the teaching hours, working with the students.”

While working at Thorshov and Cerny, Rauma contributed to projects such as the conception of the original Rapson Hall.

In 1963, Rauma co-founded Griswold and Rauma, an architecture firm, with David Griswold.

Rauma continued to leave his educational mark on the University as well as a physical mark with his help in designing Middlebrook, Willey and Coffey Halls.

“He was an architect-artist,” said former architecture professor Leonard Parker. “Both his skills and thought process were way beyond his years.”

Parker and Rauma, along with colleagues Bruce Abrahamson and Jim Stageberg, purchased 750 feet of land on upper Eau Claire Lake in Wisconsin, he said.

The foursome agreed upon a common vernacular, and each built a cabin on the property.

Their experiences in teaching and in practice along with the excitement and enthusiasm for architecture all came together at those cabins, Abrahamson said.

“All in all, (Rauma) was a great friend, a great architect and a great teacher,” he said.

John Yust, one of Rauma’s former students, spoke at the memorial service, recounting a piece of architecture advice about the design of columns and walls that Rauma offered him during his thesis project.

As a student, Yust said, he initially didn’t quite understand what Rauma meant by it, but in hindsight, it’s a piece of advice he uses regularly in his practice.

Rauma was very supportive of younger faculty members, said Steve Weeks, associate professor and director of graduate studies.

Weeks and Rauma taught two courses in alternating semesters, and Weeks described Rauma as “very reflective.”

Rauma was able to bring his practical experience to his students and discuss creative moments with them, Weeks said.

“I know that during his lifetime, the key word for him was excellence,” Parker said. “He would hope that he leaves a legacy that encourages others to do the same.”

Rauma is survived by his wife of 55 years, Wanda; daughter, Ann Laciura; sons, Peter, Allan and David, and eight grandchildren: Elizabeth, Michael, John, Natalie, Madeline, Allan John, Jeffrey and Genna.

“My dad was the most brilliant person I ever knew,” Laciura said. “Architecture was his life.”