Cover photo for David Herbert Rogstad's Obituary
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David Herbert Rogstad

February 5, 1940 — June 29, 2023


David Herbert Rogstad


Dr. David “Dave” H. Rogstad was born on February 5, 1940, the youngest of 5 children to Adolph and Elsie Rogstad, who were immigrants from Norway. He grew up in Los Angeles near Dodger Stadium and attended John Marshall High School, followed by Caltech, where he earned a BS in Physics (1962) and a PhD in Physics with an emphasis in Radio Astronomy (1966). He was raised in a Christian home, but made a personal commitment to the Lord during his graduate school years. Around this time, he met Diane through the college group at church, and they were married in August of 1965. Their first child (Timothy David) was born a year later, shortly before Dave completed his PhD dissertation, and their second (Jennifer Diane) followed a year after that. 


Dave and his young family were then invited to live in Holland, where Dave worked on a new radio astronomy array. Their third child (Stephen Paul) was born in their home while they lived overseas, and the family enjoyed traveling through Europe in their Volkswagen camper van. After returning home to the US, Dave faced a major career decision—whether to pursue the accolades of a physics professorship, or to work for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) where he could use his gifts behind the scenes. Dave chose JPL, where he was able to use his radio astronomy for the space program including the Galileo Mission, while also having time for ministry and his family (including their youngest son, Daniel Kenneth, who was born several years later). As much as Dave loved science, his first love was the Lord, His Word, and teaching.


In 2000, Dave retired from full-time work at JPL to devote himself to ministry as executive vice president for Reasons To Believe (RTB), a faith-science think tank, using his gifts to bring the gospel to science-minded people throughout the world. Dave had the ability to think through both science and scripture, explaining them in a simple way that lay people could understand. Dave continued his teaching ministries up until 2 weeks before his death, appearing weekly on the Clear Thinking Podcast through RTB, and teaching an adult Sunday School class at Glendora Alliance Church.


At the end of 2022, Dave’s health began declining with several hospitalizations, the latest of which resulted in respiratory failure. He spent his last days surrounded by his family singing hymns, and both his daughter Jenny and wife Diane were there as he took his last breath at home, as he wished. He was ready to go Home to be with his Lord and Savior.


Dave modeled his life after Psalm 1 by putting Jesus and his family first. He was a Volkswagen enthusiast, restoring a VW Bug for each of his children to drive. He had the heart of a servant, spending countless hours serving at his church doing maintenance and repair projects. He was an avid reader, and enjoyed discussing books with his children and grandchildren, especially any book by JRR Tolkien or CS Lewis. He always sought the success of others both through his leadership at JPL, authorship of a textbook on radio astronomy, and through his continued mentorship of the scholars at RTB. He was a generous listener, loved classical music, the latest audio equipment, backpacking and camping in Mammoth, and boldly shared his faith at every opportunity, even keeping a handy stash of books in his trunk to give out. His legacy will continue through the countless people who have been encouraged through his wisdom.


He is survived by his wife Diane; children Tim (Felice), Jenny (Ken), Steve (Eileen), and Daniel (Katie); grandchildren Josiah (Nicole), Gregory, Grace, Nicole (Matthew), Natalie, Leah, Megan, Heidi, Josh, Rachel, Rebekah, Paul, Ruthie, and Philip; great-grandchildren Lyon, Lily, Judah, and Florence; sisters Lillian and Esther; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Adolph and Elsie, his brother Kenneth, and his sister Evelyn. 


A memorial service will be held Saturday, August 19, 2023, at 10:30am, at Christ Church Sierra Madre, 170 W. Sierra Madre Blvd, Sierra Madre, CA 91024 with a reception following. A livestream of the service will be provided.


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