PHILIP LARS OSTERGARD
April 21, 1920 – March 12, 2012
Founding Member of Boys’ Christian League and Kare Youth League Passes Away at Age 91
Philip Ostergard was born in Oregon on April 21, 1920, but it wasn’t long before his father moved the family to East Pasadena where he literally built the house up around the family.
At an early age, Philip developed a love of Bible study and soon he joined Scout Troop 21 whose scoutmaster was Orrick Hampton. Among other things, they enjoyed camping at locations throughout the Angeles National Forest. The love of camping never left Philip Ostergard. He and brother, Francis, were part of the founding group that met in October of 1931 and created the Promise and Laws for a new club of their own that they named Boys’ Christian League.
They formed a Boys’ Bible Band and traveled to perform. Philip remembers giving his first Bible lesson at age 14. The young men in the Bible Band became the youth leaders of new teams in Pasadena and Sierra Madre. A key to success from the beginning was allowing the boys to pursue the things they enjoyed most, so sports soon became a core ingredient.
As Philip pursued a college education that culminated in a Masters Degree in Education from USC, Philip was faced with a life-changing decision. His mentor, Mr. Orrick Hampton moved to Idaho to take an administrative position at a college there. Philip had been left with two other young men to continue running the Boys’ Christian League. But Philip had long dreamed of entering the ministry, and others had encouraged him to do just that. So now he had to choose between a lives devoted to the church and a life devoted to children.
The fact that at that time the League was really struggling made the decision even harder. But convinced that God would have him do it, he chose to serve boys and girls and, as he was heading to the mailbox to mail a letter to Mr. Hampton about this decision, he met him on the way. Orrick Hampton had returned to take charge of the club he had founded.
World War II began and Philip passed on the opportunity for a deferment and a possible future chaplaincy. Instead, he served as a corpsman in the European theater. He felt his time in the service demonstrated that God could help him maintain high moral standards in a challenging environment.
After his return from the service, Philip started the new Boys’ Christian League Atlantic Fleet in Monrovia and Duarte and taught at the old Duarte School. He would teach again when Rio Hondo Preparatory School opened its doors in 1964.
One positive by-product of Mr. Hampton’s sojourn to Idaho was that Philip met the love of his life, Irma Satre. They were married on August 27, 1955. Irma supported Philip in all his endeavors over the years as she taught in the Arcadia schools and piano privately.
In the early 50’s, Boys’ Christian League teams still played in the public parks, but when conflicts arose, Mr. Hampton was determined that his boys should have a place of their own. He took Philip with him to find that spot, and they found land at the end of Farna Avenue in Arcadia that served the area as an unofficial dump. Not much later, Mr. Hampton handed Philip the responsibility to build a youth center there. It was the beginning of finding the hidden engineer within himself and would lead him to building, building and more building. Through those challenges, he witnessed great blessings from his faith in God that over and over brought visible answers to his prayers.
The first block building went up in Arcadia after a donut sale provided the money for the permit. As with future projects, the first building went up as gifts-in-kind were put into hands of willing volunteers. As the first building went up, the need for fields grew and materials and help were needed for those as well.
Philip Ostergard was depended on to find the gifts. There really wasn’t money available to do these projects, but the organization was growing and the need was great. Mr. Ostergard fought through getting concrete pipe to fill huge drainage ditches on the property and then got the pipe installed. When that major task was accomplished it fell to him to get the basketball courts paved and as he did, he dealt with the county on receiving permission to use small strips of land that eventually lead a parking lot for parents.
When part of the club’s land was lost, Mr. Ostergard found the “New Fields” where Sam’s Club now stands in El Monte. Hundreds of boys cleared millions of rocks to make their fields. For Mr. Ostergard it always was always about the eternal lives of the children of Kare Youth League. Camping was at the heart of the early program and it stayed at the heart of Mr. Ostergard.
When Kare Youth League purchased their organizational camp near Wrightwood called Mount Kare, Mr. Ostergard became the one to follow through on building a home for caretakers and the new lodge. He oversaw the building of new cabins and the paving of the access road from the highway to the camp. Mount Kare was always a sacred spot for Mr. Ostergard. He gave the chapel lessons to children until he was well into his eighties.
In his later years, he has authored a book on Abraham Lincoln called “The Inspired Wisdom of Abraham Lincoln” that was published by the Tyndale Press. Philip presented lectures on Lincoln locally and throughout the U.S.
Philip Ostergard is survived by his brother, Francis Ostergard, his sister, Doris Robbins his two daughters, Julene Barrett and Joella Andrisano, and six grandchildren, Jensen, Parker, Hudson, Cooper and Peyton Barrett, and Bailey and Sophia Andrisano.
A graveside service will be held on Thursday, March 15th at 11:00 a.m. at Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier – Main Gate.
A memorial service will be held on Sunday, March 18th at 4:00 p.m. in the Stivers Center at Kare Youth League, 5150 Farna Avenue in Arcadia.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations for a fund to help children. Please call 626/442-1160 ext. 115 for arrangements.
The History of Kare Youth League as told by Mr.Philip Ostergard
[hana-flv-player video=”http://www.philipostergard.com/videos/kare.flv” width=”450″ height=”375″ alignment=”center” description=”History of Kare Youth League” player=”4″ autoload=”true” autoplay=”false” loop=”true” autorewind=”true” /]
We would like to collect as many stories about Mr. Ostergard as we can.
Please take the time to share a story or two by filling in the comment section below.