Born on March 14, 1940 in St. Petersburg, Florida, Roland was the youngest of Fred and Blanche (Aubin) Sweet’s five sons. After graduating from St. Petersburg High School in 1958, Roland served for two years in the U.S. Navy. He studied for an Associate’s degree at St. Petersburg Junior College and then obtained a BS in Mathematics from Florida State University in 1963. Roland was subsequently recommended by an undergraduate advisor for admission into a new Ph.D. program in Computer Science at Purdue University, funded by a National Defense Education Act grant intended to fill a critical need for mathematicians and computer scientists at the height of the Cold War. Doctorate in hand, he joined the newly established Computer Science Department at Cornell University in 1967 as an associate professor; as he would throughout his career, Roland also worked during the summers at a variety of national research labs.
His stints at the Argonne National Laboratory and the Marathon Oil Research Center in Denver drew him to the state that would become his true home: Colorado. Roland joined the University of Colorado’s Math Department as a tenure-track professor in 1970, teaching at the Denver campus while also consulting at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). He received tenure in 1974 and continued to teach as an associate professor until 1980, when he left to take a position at the National Bureau of Standards (NBS, now NIST) in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Just two years later, Roland returned to Colorado, transferring to a position at the NBS labs in Boulder and then rejoining the Math Department at UC Denver as a full professor and Director of the Computational Mathematics Group.
In January 1989, Roland married the love of his life, Linda Lindgren. Once he retired from the university in 1996, together they fulfilled this avid sailor’s lifelong dream of taking to the seas, living for two years aboard a sailboat, mostly in the Caribbean. Roland returned to the land in 1998, moving first to Seattle to work on a digital image compression project for a small start-up firm, LizardTech, and later to McKinney, Texas, where he worked on programming and software projects for BD and other companies. He retired for good in 2008, and came home one final time to Boulder. It was there that he discovered his post-retirement calling as a volunteer garden manager for Earth’s Table, a non-profit community farming program working to end hunger, which became a passion of Roland’s over these last years.
He is survived by his wife of 30 years, Linda; his daughters, Catherine (Scott Bolz) and Anne; his stepdaughter, Elizabeth Holman (Carolus) and stepson, Warren Lindgren (Mendi); five adoring grandchildren, Isabelle Holman, Holden Lindgren, Olivia Bolz, Hayden Lindgren, and Hannah Sweet; and Winston the cat. In them, his love and light will live on.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that a contribution be made in Roland’s name to Earth’s Table (www.earths-table.org), the organization that brought him so much joy and purpose by helping those in need.