FRANCIS ELMER OSTERGARD
February 23, 1918 – September 27, 2013
Founding Member and President of Boys’ Christian League and Kare Youth League Passes Away at Age 95
Francis Ostergard was born in Independence, Oregon on February 23, 1918, and it wasn’t long before his family moved to East Pasadena in Southern California where his father literally built their house around the growing family.
As a youngster, Francis with his brother Philip joined Boy Scout Troop 21 whose scoutmaster was Orrick Hampton. Among the many activities they enjoyed, they especially liked camping at various locations in the Angeles National Forest.
In October 1931, Francis and Philip were among the small group of young men who, with Orrick Hampton, founded the Boys’ Christian League (BCL). The organization was later renamed Boys and Girls’ Christian League and today is known as Kare Youth League (KYL). They wrote the Promise and Laws for the new club, which emphasize bravery, purity and truth – traits that would help children become successful adults and parents. The Promise and Laws remain unchanged today and are recited by members at all three of Kare Youth League’s centers.
Later, the young men formed a Boys’ Bible Band, traveling and performing throughout the Southland. Many of the Bible Band members became the youth leaders of new BCL teams in Pasadena and Sierra Madre. Francis often said that the key to success from the beginning was allowing the boys to pursue the things they enjoyed most; sports soon became a core ingredient along with the character training they received from stories in the Bible. Francis remembered giving his first Bible lesson at age 16.
As Francis pursed his education at Pasadena Junior College, now PCC, the organization bought a printing press and rented a small shop on Rosemead Boulevard. This began Francis’ lifelong passion for printing and journalism. The imprinting and sale of Christmas cards became a major fundraiser for the organization for decades and Francis was the guiding force.
As time went by, he trained many young people in the printing trade. Francis continued to help edit and design publications including the yearly Kare Youth League birthday cards well into his nineties.
During World War II, Francis Ostergard was drafted and served at Fort Lewis in Washington where he received a medal for rewriting the armed forces training manuals. His journalistic abilities were utilized and recognized in the service of his country.
Following the war, he returned to the organization he loved as a leader of boys in BCL. In the 1950s, the club continued to grow and land was purchased for ball fields and clubrooms at 5150 Farna Avenue in Arcadia. Francis Ostergard’s dedication and hard work kept everything moving forward, and he virtually lived on the new land as buildings and fields were being erected. The property was developed into Kare’s largest center and he enjoyed opening the gates each morning for boys and girls until his 90th birthday.
In 1959, when founder Orrick W. Hampton was hospitalized, Francis was asked to take boys on a seven-week summer tour around the United States. Even though this was out of his comfort zone, he filled in remarkably. It was no different in 1982 when Orrick Hampton passed away and Francis Ostergard was elected President of the organization.
As he had done so many times before, Francis Ostergard met the challenge and provided vision to a young and growing team of youth leaders who started a second center in the East San Gabriel Valley and later a third in Upland. Financing the expansion was a challenge as membership grew to over 1,000.
For decades Francis and his brother Philip worked on fundraising. Francis was directly responsible for Kare Youth League’s annual Circus and Carnival, seeing it grow from its tiny beginnings on a vacant lot to the major event it is today at the Rose Bowl. Their vision and dreams were realized when the organization received a generous gift from one of the club’s earliest members, Truman Stivers who joined in 1933.
Francis gave the keynote address and cut the ribbon on February 4, 2012 opening the doors to the Truman B. Stivers Center, Kare’s state-of-the-art gymnasium in Arcadia.
“In 1931, we could never have imagined it,” he said in his remarks.
In his later years Francis Ostergard served as president, pastor, mentor and inspiration to aspiring youth leaders who followed in his path with the common aim of helping children lead victorious lives.
He and his brother Philip lived and exemplified the Kare Youth League Promise they helped to create in 1931, which begins, “I promise by the strength of Christ to be brave, pure and true.”
A graveside service will be held on Tuesday, October 8th at 10:00 a.m. at Live Oak Memorial Park, 200 E. Duarte Rd., Monrovia.
A memorial service will be held on Sunday, October 13th at 7:00 p.m. in the Stivers Center at Kare Youth League, 5150 Farna Avenue, Arcadia.
Kare Youth League is currently developing a new sports complex for boys and girls in Irwindale where a ball field will be named in his memory. In lieu of flowers, please send donations in support of this project. Gifts in memory of Francis Ostergard can be mailed to Kare Youth League, P.O. Box 662080, Arcadia, CA 91066-2080. For more information please call 626-442-1160 ext. 145.