Let the memory of Rollie be with us forever.
  • 60 years old
  • Born on July 31, 1958 in Tampa, Florida, United States.
  • Passed away on January 6, 2019 in Omaha, Nebraska, United States.

This memorial was created in honor of Roland "Rollie" Leslie Tesh Jr., who passed away peacefully in his sleep of natural causes after being in poor health for a few years.  He is survived by two sisters, Lisa and Lori, a brother-in-heart, Bill, and nieces Jennifer, Carissa, and Jessica.  Rollie was an avid traveler, a respected game designer, and will be dearly missed by all his friends, family, and colleagues.

The family is planning a small memorial service and ash scattering in Tulsa Oklahoma.  More details to follow.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Rollie's latest passion, Spielbound, a non-profit organization striving to educate, engage, and create community through board games.  http://spielbound.org/donate

Posted by Kristi Howard on February 20, 2019
I remember him as a little boy. Very ambitious young man. I was with my little brothers & my boyfriend (at the time) at an amusement park in Tulsa, OK and Rollie Jr, we called him, ran up & asked my boyfriend how much money he brought with him. Lol. He was very outgoing & never skipped a beat. Wish I could have known him as an adult. So sad he had to leave this world at such a young age.
Posted by Richard Tesh on February 19, 2019
I was his uncle "dickie", I used to baby sit when rollie and Lisa were very young, he was pretty combative as a youngster, especially at bed time. they later moved from hometown of Coffeyville Ks. But we were able to keep in touch for a number of years later. I remember one thanksgiving after dinner several of us were sitting around the table. Rollie and I got into a subject of truth in TV reporting. Honest or Not. He should be an attorney as he could talk like he knew what he was speaking about. In short he blew me away with some of the things he recited. At that point I thought he would become a lawyer. Alas he chose to create games we as family was able to play some of these games. He will be missed by his sisters and the rest of us who consider him a marvel. Love to you Rollie.
Posted by Kevan Frazier on February 16, 2019
The team at Well Played Board Game Cafe in Asheville met Rollie in the spring of last year where he was our designer in residence for three months. Rollie really activated our game design folks, both our staff and our community. It was a blast to work through the game testing phase with him for a number of games. Rollie was so creative. He always thinking of another angle of play for any given game. He is very missed.
Posted by Terry Hickman on January 14, 2019
I never knew Rollie, or even know he made games. But I'm glad he had such an adventurous life and admire him for the millions of hours his games have brought to people. I'm a sporadic visitor to Spielbound and I always love being there. It's people like Rollie who make it so fun and welcoming. The board game community, and indeed the world, have lost a good man, and my condolences to his family and friends.
Posted by Ricky Kinney on January 14, 2019
I never knew Mr. Tesh, but have been a Star Trek CCG player for many years. Thanks to his efforts in game development, his work has touched thousands of people around the world. He will be truly missed and we will be forever grateful for his contributions that have enriched all our lives. Thank you, and fare well.
Posted by Alan Leapley on January 12, 2019
I really enjoyed talking with Rollie. He had many passions and was very intelligent. We talked about politics, The Beatles, music, games, movies and life. I will miss that. I wish I could have one last conversation with him. I am so glad to have met Rollie and I will miss having him in the Spielbound family. ♡
Posted by Anon Review on January 12, 2019
I suppose this place could be overrun with fans of the CCGs that Tom designed, but people usually get a kick out of this when I bring it up: the Star Trek CCG went all the way to Africa where I learned it in 1996. 20+ years later I am still a fan and organiser. In 2015 I took a 6 month long sabbatical that included playing STCCG on 3 different continents. It is fair to say that there are many people and places that I would never have been had it not been for Rollie's work. Thank you Rollie!
Posted by Stacie Catlett on January 10, 2019
Rollie had been in my thoughts over the season as I'd been reading my traveling journals. We met in Vegas, shared many a story of his adventures after designing the Star Wars card game in early ' 80s and being a millionaire, shared several meals and he was with me when I acquired that nasty black eye on Fremont Street. I was searching to find him to say 'Hey Rollie" and found that he passed just a few days ago. RIP
Rollie, you made my time in Vegas memorable.
Posted by Lori Tesh on January 10, 2019
My big brother, i have always admired him and looked up to him, growing up as kids wasnt always the best but our age difference probably had alot to do with it besides the fact that i was a huge spoiled brat. One time i was playing outside and was told to go in for dinner, i didnt. So my brother decided to get a fishing rod, he casted it out at me and sure enough, how he did it i will never understand, he hooked me on my eyebrow and started to reel me in until my mother heard the screams, i still have that scar to remember. Another time he had a friend over and he had to babysit me that evening while our parents were out, they decided to do a crazy scare tactic and his friend went outside he began to howl like a wolf at my window, of course my brother played the part by saying there is a wherewolf out there and he was hungry. I hid while my brother went on the roof and began thumping and scratching, then they went to the front door leaving huge scratch marks on the door (later when our parents got home he was grounded for a week) that whole night i thought i was dinner to our local wherewolf, which rollie never gave up on convincing me he would come back another night. I look back on those days and laugh now but let me tell you i was a true believer in anything he said. After he graduated high school he was gone and it wasnt until i was 20yrs old when my big brother became a big part in my life, he came to Los Angeles, Ca to be at my wedding. He stayed in California and lived with us for a short time, i got to know him as an adult and the big brother i always wanted. As adults Rollie was gone most of the years working with games and didnt have much time for family. Our only communications were one line emails, alot of them. He was finally going to come to visit me in Palm Springs where i live now. Then...nothing. For two years i never heard another word from him, unfornately when he was found he was not well. He has struggled with his health for a long time. Not knowing much about him since then except the fact that Rollie was a dedicated person to what ever he was involved in, he could be stubborn in his beliefs and angry if you werent seeing what he saw. But he was brilliant, smart and my idol. He was my big brother and for that i will aways love who he was. I will always and forever miss you big bro. I love you Rollie with all my heart. XXXOOO
Posted by Tom Braunlich on January 10, 2019
Lisa Tesh asked me to write some stories about Rollie here, since I knew him so long…45 years. I could write reams. This will only give some hints about what he was like.
 Rollie was a truly creative person. He mostly loved intellectual challenges of all kinds – games strategy, designs, and puzzles. And to him things like politics, the stock market, and people in general were just another kind of puzzle.
 I met him in high school where he got me into tournament chess. He won the state junior championship in the mid-70s, and later became a rated “Expert”. (No doubt he would have become a Master had he put in the effort but he quit tournaments in the early ‘80s, yet remained an avid fan of the sport his whole life as a spectator). After high school in 1976 he wanted to travel. Instead of college, he wrangled a station-wagon car out of his parents with the idea of fixing up the back to sleep in and traveling around the country playing in chess tournaments for prize money. He did that for about 6 months as I recall. When the money ran out he worked for a year as part of a troop of selling magazines door-to-door in a high-pressure, never-take-no-for-an-answer style. I think this affected his personality a lot as he came to think he could manipulate anyone into doing anything (he told me so), but it did not serve him well with friends as if you ever got into a disagreement with him he couldn’t let it go until you either capitulated to his arguments or got so mad you’d want to throw a punch! Despite that he had a certain integrity and trustworthiness, as even if sometimes he was trying to manipulate you into something he thought it was for your own good.
 Later in the ‘70s he worked for Chess Digest in Dallas, editing technical chess books, and also as a waiter in a high-class restaurant there, where he was good at wrangling big tips. One day in 1980 I got a call from him and I mentioned I was involved with a new strategy game company called Pente in Stillwater (Okla.) where I was in college, and he immediately saw that opportunity and came up and wrangled a job. We both worked there (it was the biggest-selling board game in 1982 before being sold to Parker Brothers in 1983). This convinced him that he could have a career in the game industry. He and I both worked separately for some short-lived game companies until I decided to go on my own with game design when I was living in Seattle in 1987, and he soon came up to join me as my business partner, which we did for the next 15 years. We would design games (and some toys too) and try to license them to game publishers, getting royalties like book authors do. His creativity and savvy really shined in this work, and we made a good and prolific team.
 For example, one day I came into the office with an idea that we could take the “scratch-off technology” they use on lottery scratch tickets, and turn it into a two-player game. I was unsure of the idea, because the games would be disposable one-time plays, and no one had ever done that before. But he was enthusiastic and figured out how to do it, including how to do the printing process, etc. (which required much research). It was called “Scratchees” and was our first successful game (and still one of my favorites). We had enough minor successes that we made a living at game design (since neither of us had a family and could live simply). Finally in 1994-2001 we had some big hits with Star Trek and Star Wars customizable card games with our good friends at Decipher Inc., in Virginia, to which we had to move from Seattle, as we were extremely busy working exclusively on those massive projects for years. After that I retired from the game biz in 2002 but Rollie continued working in it on his own and continued to until the end, frequently getting games published, enough to live on.
 Rollie’s other big passion was travel. Whenever he got some money in his pocket he would go somewhere – mainly to Europe but also Quebec, Latin America and the Caribbean and once visited the Philippines and the wedding of our mutual friend designer Joli Q. Kansil. Like everything, Rollie treated travel as an intellectual challenge, in this case how to get the most out of it. I went with him on a couple such trips and he made a good traveling companion, as he was very thoughtful about where to go – staying out of tourist traps and getting to see the real place. He had many techniques of his own devising. The first thing he would do upon arriving is find the local “pub” and hang out there, to cultivate serendipity and to get the real scoop on the place and the people, which to him was how you “win” the traveling game. And his theories included even what music to play in his headphones while visiting museums and sights — he would always choose some particular song to play at particular place – and nowhere else – so that forever after he would associate that song in his mind with that place. I took this advice myself on trips – and it works. For example, when I went to Amsterdam one time, he told me to go to the Van Gogh museum and play Don McLean’s “Vincent” song while there. I did, and now whenever I hear that song I am suddenly back in Amsterdam.
 This is typical of what it was like to know Rollie. He was in Europe when 9/11 happened. He decided to stay and ended up there for several more years, mainly in Prague but traveling all over, until his savings eventually ran out and he had to return and get back into the game design business. As for his love life, don’t ask me, I know nothing as he was very secretive about it and I was not the kind of person to ask. I know he had some important relationships, including one in Prague when he lived there, but they didn’t last.
 In recent years he worked at some boardgame cafes in London, Asheville, and Omaha; where he could be involved in games and also do design work on the side. He loved that, but his health was poor due to a bout with depression after 2003 that led to alcoholism, as well as a lifetime of smoking cigarettes, and there was a decline that ended at a young age this week.
 The past couple days talking with our friends at Decipher they all fondly remembered his creativity, saying that although it was hard to tell the difference between his brilliant ideas and his crazy ideas, he always advocated for them all with equal enthusiasm! Sometimes it was frustrating when he kept fighting for an idea that no one else liked, but all agreed this was something to admire about him too, and how he will be remembered. The world will be a less challenging and interesting place without Rollie in it…
Posted by Jason Riha on January 9, 2019
My friend and I went to our local mom and pop bookstore every Saturday night and played star wars ccg. We still have our cards from 20 plus years ago and still talk about particular games that we played against each other to this day. Thank you.
Posted by Steve Asaro on January 9, 2019
Your games provided so much entertainment in the 90's for me while I lived overseas. Late night gaming and re imagining the Star Wars/Star Trek stories are some of my fondest memories of that time. Thank you. The gaming community will miss you.
Posted by Dylan James on January 9, 2019
Thank you for the games, my friends and I played both Star Wars and Star Trek back in South Africa back in the 90's, and I still play both of them when I can. RIP.
Posted by Kristi Howard on January 9, 2019
So sorry to hear about Rollie Jr. I remember him as a young boy. He was a spunky young man. He was so creative & bright! I know he will be missed.

Leave a Tribute