This week would have marked David H. Rogstad’s (1940–2023) 84th birthday. Dave was one of my closest friends and a deeply respected colleague. We worked together at Reasons to Believe (RTB) for more than 20 years. Along with our host Joe Aguirre, Dave and I did a weekly (and ongoing) program called Clear Thinking for more than 12 years. I always said we were three peas in a podcast.
Let me tell you three things that I appreciated about my dear friend.
Love of Books
Dave and I shared a love of reading and discussing books together. In my work as a scholar at RTB, I recommend a lot of books in the areas of history, theology, philosophy, and apologetics. What I appreciated about Dave is that he would purchase the books I recommended, read them, and then ask questions about the content. He was an avid reader and loved discussing ideas. When I first met him in the year 2000 he wasn’t fond of philosophy. But I rubbed off on him and in the last few years that we worked together he would come into my office and ask, for example, if I had read the latest Alvin Plantinga philosophy text. Plantinga is an outstanding Christian philosopher and most of his books are a challenging read.
One of Dave’s greatest contributions to RTB was the way he encouraged the scholars to grow together as a team. When he first came to work at RTB, he invited all the scholars to go to lunch together once a week. So, for the vast majority of Tuesdays over a 20-year period the RTB scholars had lunch together at a local Subway sandwich shop. Dave almost always drove and the rest of us would pack into his car. Those lunch discussions involved eating, laughing, storytelling, debating, and growing in genuine friendship and team building. The manager of the local Subway knew our usual orders by memory.
Before coming to work at RTB full time, Dave had a distinguished career as a scientist working for 30+ years at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. At JPL he worked on several high-profile projects including the Galileo mission and hypercube concurrent computation. On his JPL bio it says “Dave received numerous awards for his technical contributions to the NASA program, including a NASA Exceptional Service Medal for his contributions to antenna arraying.” Yet, while Dave had a brilliant scientific mind, he was one of the most humble persons I’ve ever known. Instead of talking about himself and his career accomplishments, he was much more interested in talking about the Lord and his relationship with his family and friends. Dave and his wife Diane were married for almost 60 years.
I think about Dave often and miss him as a close friend and valued colleague. On Tuesday mornings I still expect him to walk into my office so we can discuss theology.
May Dave now rest in peace with Christ and then rise in glory.