Introductory Note:

On Thursday, June 16, 2016, Roger Fredrikson, a beloved member of the Renovaré family, concluded his earthly journey at the age of 95. Roger was an example, leader, mentor, inspiration, and dear friend to many. We offer our deepest condolences to Roger’s family, even as we celebrate a life profoundly well-lived and imagine the home-going celebration that must be taking place.

What follows is Roger’s obituary. We’re also privileged to share with you a few of the personal, unguarded responses that came immediately in emails from Renovaré ministry team members upon hearing the news of Roger’s passing. Several of them mention the reunion Roger must be enjoying not only with his beloved wife, Ruth, but also with his dear friends (and partners in Renovaré adventures) Bill Vaswig and Dallas Willard. We pray this personal glimpse into the life of an extraordinarily faithful disciple will encourage you in your own life with God

Renovaré Team

A Life Well-Lived

Roger Leonard Fredrikson, long-time religious and civic leader in the Sioux Falls community, died peacefully at the age of 95 on Thursday, June 16, at the Sanford Hospice Cottages in Sioux Falls.

Rev. Fredrikson was born in Mission City, British Columbia, Canada, on November 27, 1920, to Rev. Alfred Leonard Fredrikson and Elvira Marie (Michaelson) Fredrikson.

Following graduation from Salem (SD) High School, Roger, as he wanted to be called, attended what was then Sioux Falls College and graduated in 1942 from Ottawa University, Ottawa, KS. He received his Bachelor of Divinity degree from Andover Newton Theological Seminary in Newton, MA, and did further graduate study at Union Theological Seminary in New York..

On June 1, 1944, Roger married Ruth Evelyn Beaver at the First Baptist Church in Ottawa, where he later served as pastor. He also served as senior pastor (and later as pastor emeritus) of First Baptist Church, Sioux Falls, and First Baptist, Wichita, KS, “the church that refused to die.” Roger authored five books.

He was president of his denomination, the American Baptist Churches USA, in the early ‘70s and was very active in the ecumenical church movement in Sioux Falls. Roger and Ruth led many church renewal conferences around the country, and he was a sparkplug in Renovaré, a national church renewal movement. He greatly enjoyed being part of two ecumenical TV programs here, “The Open Door,” and “A Cup of Coffee with Roger.”

Out of his faith in Jesus Christ, he reached out to marginalized people (“the dandelions”) through helping found The Glory House halfway house for those coming out of prison. He also was a part of the work of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the Carroll Institute for chemically dependent people, juvenile justice reform efforts, the Firehouse Coffee House outreach, Habitat for Humanity, and other organizations dedicated to serving “the least of these.”

At age 89, Roger became a mentor to students at Edison Middle School.

Roger was also a U of M football fan and a Twins fan and enjoyed golfing and swimming and spending time with his kids and grandkids at the family cabin on Lobster Lake, Alexandria, MN.

Roger is survived by his sister Marilyn (Ray) Boehm, his children Rev. Randy (Elaine) Fredrikson, Sioux Falls, and their sons Joel (Traci) and Benjamin; Miriam (Frank) Lemp, Ottawa, KS, and their daughters Elizabeth (Andy), and Sarah; and Rev. Joel (Jeanne Anne) Fredrikson, Grafton, WI, and their sons Levi and Jacob; seven nieces and one nephew. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife Ruth, sister Carol, and brother Jerry.

Pastor Fredrikson’s visitation will be held from 6:00-8:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 23, in the Family Life Center at First Baptist, 1401 S. Covell Ave., Sioux Falls, and his memorial service will be at 2:00 p.m. Friday, June 24, in the First Baptist sanctuary.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to First Baptist, Sioux Falls, First Baptist, Ottawa, KS; the University of Sioux Falls; and Ottawa University.

Renovaré Responses

“Our dear friend and colleague Roger Fredrikson went home to be with the Lord on Thursday, June 16th. I’m sure his beloved Ruth was there to greet him . . . and no doubt many, many others. I’m wondering if he has hooked up with Bill Vaswig by now so the two of them can tell a few jokes and dance a jig together. (Does one’s dancing improve in heaven?!)

This is a time of deep sadness and loss but also of great rejoicing and victory. ‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1Cor. 15:35-37.)” – Richard Foster

“I met Roger at my first Renovaré gathering. As I was being introduced as the youngest member of the Renovaré team, he stood up, walked across the room, gave me a bearhug and yelled out into the audience, ‘The young and the old in the kingdom of God!’ It turns out, he was the oldest team member and I the youngest. It was the best welcome I’ve ever received. That’s the kind of guy Roger was!” – Jon Bailey

“Can you imagine the joyous reunion of Bill and Roger? My fondest memories of Renovaré gatherings were always the antics of those two. I can remember laughing so hard, we nearly fell off our chairs. How I will miss the personal notes, the calls of encouragement and gratitude for the prayer letter. I used his wonderful book on the Gospel of John this whole year in a class I taught. Roger was a close, dear friend for so many years and my tears are for the hole he leaves in our lives, but also tears of joy for his wonderful reunion with his blessed Savior. I can imagine the Lord saying, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’ Farewell, dear Roger. We will meet again.” – Gayle Withnell

“Last December I had the chance to visit Roger in Sioux Falls with Carolyn and Justine. I will never forget the time we had together. It closed with a big hug and special prayers from Roger for Renovaré and for the three of us. His love was palpable. How can I put it? Roger radiated with the love of the God he is now enjoying face to face.” – Chris Hall

“Roger never met a stranger. I remember his kind and attentive interaction with all he met, the wait person at the restaurant, the wheelchair porter at the airport, everyone he ever came into contact with received his full attention. He and my mother were both born in 1920 and once he learned that fact, he never failed to ask me how she was doing, and he always reminded me that he was praying for her. Roger was an inspiring example of how a disciple of Christ should live.” – Joan Skulley

“Roger was so warm and welcoming. Full of life—spunk and fire.

Through the years I've started to play a little game. Whenever I meet someone from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, (for some strange reason I've meet a lot) I ask them if they know Roger Fredrikson. Honest truth, the majority of the time they do. What's stunning about this is not his popularity, but the shift in people’s continence when I enquire. People light up and always have a story to tell. It's always the same. They speak about how kind he was, how he listened to them, and how they felt when around him. I imagine they feel the way Roger made me feel. I have a collection of notes he sent me through the years, always offering words of encouragement for something I had written. I've kept every one of those barely legible letters. I'm so grateful I got to meet Roger. I'm so grateful to know people like him exist.

At the end of the day people won't remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel (Maya Angelou).” – Nathan Foster

“Sue and I will miss Roger greatly. Like everyone else, I have some special and hilarious memories of our times together. Dallas Willard liked to think of heaven in the words of the song 'seventy six trombones led the big parade...'. Surely we can picture Roger right there upfront.” – James Catford

“Another saint has joined the heavenly procession! Ah, Roger! Home at last!” – George Skramstad

“Roger was a great spiritual friend, leader and pastoral counselor to me and to my husband Bill and to so many others. He has been a source of strength, love, and encouragement for us all. Richard and Roger led the first Renovaré conference I attended, which as I recall was in Salem, Oregon. I was around for all the hi-jinks with Bill Vaswig, the Swedish and Norwegian jokes, all that. Also I was privileged to meet Ruth when they came to meetings together. I used to send him a poem every year at the first sign of spring in Louisiana, because it was encouraging to those who live through a winter in South Dakota. We will miss him.” – Emilie Griffin

“Roger will be missed. I am thankful for his presence and fond memories.” – Brian Kang

“Roger was a warm and gentle influence in my life. Perhaps the most significant gift I received from him was the witness of his great love for his beloved Ruth. Roger loved her and it seems to me a model of how Christ loves his church. I'll remember him fondly and with great joy.” – Juanita Rasmus

“I am deeply saddened by our dear friend Roger's passing but rejoice that he is with the Lord and the company of His beloved ones.” – Siang-Yang Tan

“I sure am going to miss dancing with that man.” – Lacy Finn Borgo

“Oh, I shall miss Roger so. I like to imagine that Ruth greeted him with open arms, and perhaps she played ‘Claire de Lune’ for him once again. It was Ruth's recital piece, and she played it for him during their courtship. Debussy's music was played at their wedding, and Ruth memorized it once again and played it for Roger in celebration of their 40th anniversary in 1984. Roger once wrote ‘We never hear that lovely melody without exchanging glances or joining hands, conveying feelings that run deeper than words.’

And when I think of the reunion between Roger and our dear Bill Vaswig—oh, how the Sven and Ole jokes must be flying! Uff da! We miss them, but we will see them again.” – Richella Parham

“In my world authenticity is lacking. Roger (even since I saw him speak at Linfield College in 1962 and then through his reconnection with Richard at Renovaré in the 1980s) has been the real deal in my walk with HIM!” – Dick Withnell

“Roger was a friend and mentor to Len and I before Renovaré was born. We were together in the Billy Graham Schools of Evangelism and he was a master teacher that everyone wanted to hear. It was such a privilege to serve with him on the board and he will always be so much a part of all of our lives. We pray earnestly for all his family and those close to him there.” – Marti Ensign

“What a day of rejoicing this must be as Roger greets everyone in heaven and blesses them. I have a little yellow post it with one of Roger’s prayers—from our time together at Mt. Saint Francis. It seems appropriate this week so I share it with you dear friends. ‘This is your day and we worship you and praise you, Father, Son and Spirit.’ Roger would be glad for us to do just that, wouldn’t he? Like you I miss him.” – Margaret Campbell

“A couple of years ago I asked Roger if his fulcrum shifted when Ruth went to be with the Lord. He responded that this was indeed the case. Most of him was with her in glory. Now he is home—among the saints rejoicing unimpaired in the beauty and joy of the Trinity. Welcome home, Roger. We look forward to seeing you again with no goodbyes.” – Mimi Dixon

“Roger had an extraordinary love of others. Hearing a need or concern, he would say, ‘Let’s just pray right now.’ He had an inherent joy and fun loving spirit and a recall of Scripture that fit the circumstances. His call to move to Wichita to restore divided community leaders explains much about his nature. His great love for Ruth was inspiring. These unique characteristics created an unsurpassed enjoyment of being together for the Renovaré board, who scheduled an additional day each year just to be with one another.

Roger exemplified living in the Kingdom of God now. His life draws us all to a greater awareness of the immediate presence of The Father in and all around us. We all have been greatly blessed by his life.” – Robert Howey

“I only got to meet Roger once, last December, just a few months into my new position with Renovaré. He was brimming with life, keenly interested in the current happenings in the ministry, and only too willing to discuss the latest books he was reading (one of which, I recall, was a Wendell Berry.) He prayed for Chris, Justine and me with authority and insight, and when we asked how we could pray for him, he talked about his friends at the retirement home and his desire for them to walk with the Lord. There was a very real sense that we were sitting in the company of an Actual Saint.” – Carolyn Arends

"The love of Jesus Christ oozed out of every pore of Roger's body. You've heard of renaissance men; Roger was a resurrection person. He was one of those rare people who have two spiritual gifts that seem incompatible: ministry and administration. Operating in Christ's love and the gifts of the Spirit, he helped resurrect moribund organizations and churches, the most famous being First Baptist Church of Wichita, Kansas, the story of which became the title of a book,The Church That Refused to Die. Another story he told was of going to India to help bring reconciliation between two tribes who both claimed to be Christian. It happened. Wherever he went, new life in Christ and reconciliation between people broke out. We desperately need more leaders like Roger. He will be missed." - Lynda Graybeal

"We ministered together in his city, we ate Krispy Kreme donuts together, shared our prayer concerns together and so much more. I will miss you Roger!" - Glandion Carney

“So deeply saddened but also full of great JOY because our dear Roger is with a part of the ‘cloud of witnesses’! They're rejoicing at his homecoming!!!” – Donn Thomas

"Donn’s mention of the cloud of witnesses started my tears, thinking of Roger being greeted by Dallas and Bill (and Ruth and Mary Howey, et al). Oh my!" – Jane Willard

“One of the most gracious, open-spirited persons I have met. God did wonderful things through his servant Roger! Keep dancing in eternity!” – Kai Nilsen

Lessons from Roger

On April 25, 2016, we featured Nathan Foster's conversation with Roger Fredrikson on our Renovaré Podcast. Please look for it below to see even deeper into the heart of this godly man.

Related Podcast

Obituary courtesy of