Roger L. Sasse

April 23, 1942 - January 5, 2024

Pastor Roger L. Sasse, age 81, of Lincoln was called home January 5th, 2024, a grateful beneficiary, of a life full of the gifts of God and wonder-filled opportunities to serve.

Pastor Roger L. Sasse was a Nebraskan by birth and life-long Lutheran. He often described himself as an incurable romantic who never had a ''real job'' for a living. Roger was born to Elmer and Elda Sasse in 1942, loving parents whose guidance and love provided a context for the rest of his life. With Mary, he parented two wonderful daughters - Jill and Jana.

He graduated from Fremont High School in 1959, Midland Lutheran College with a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration in 1963, and a Bachelor of Divinity from Central Lutheran School of theology in 1967. He later received a Master of Science in Education in 1970 and Certification as a Conference Center Administrator in 1998.

Roger experienced a ''call to ministry'' at age thirteen. He remembered being on his way home from a water fight, when his Pastor Grant Van Boening happened by, and gave him a ride home. In the eight block ride, he shared, Pastor Van asked if he had ever thought of entering the ministry, to which he replied nope! Pastor Van said ''why don't you think about it!'' He said he would, and the next day, he told his parents he was going to seminary. Then told his grandma! A point of no return! He said he never really thought about it again until one morning, sitting in the Midland College Student Center, he thought to himself ''what in the world have I done!'' The call he said was always elusive to him. He remembered one day while on internship, so unsure of his call that he ''gave the Lord six months'' to speak clearly to him. (Six months came and went - NO word from the Lord!) But with the encouragement of Pastor Stan Ecklund, his Internship Supervisor, he went on, continually pursued by an indiscernible voice inside him. Later in his life he looked back on what had been an unbelievable collection of opportunities to serve. I am a lucky boy! He would say, as he summed up his life! A GRATEFUL BENEFICIARY!

Upon graduation from seminary in 1967, he accepted a split call as the first Assistant Pastor of First Lutheran Church in Kearney, where, under the guiding hand of Pastor Ron Ebb and Nebraska Synod President Dr. Reuben Swanson, he was given the opportunity to begin a Lutheran Campus Ministry at Kearney State College (University of Nebraska at Kearney). He shared that he was an instant failure as a confirmation teacher, so Pastor Ebb suggested he just go take care of students on campus and Pastor Ebb would take care of the congregation. The congregation ''sweetened the pot'' by paying his congregational salary as a gift to the campus ministry. He completed his Master of Science in Education at Kearney State, and served the campus ministry there for six years. What a joy! He always said that there were very few pastors he knew for whom worship was always without fail a mind-blowing experience! He was blessed with the presence and musical abilities of an incredible group of students (Jim & Chuck Salestrom, John & Dee Peshek, Jerry, Karen, Larry, Marb, Sue, Gwen, Rene, Bobby - so dangerous to name names, as there were so many more). These students brought an incredible joy to literally hundreds with their faith-filled music!

In 1979 he was given the opportunity to go to Indiana University as Campus Pastor, again an experience which he cherished his life-long. While there, he was invited into partnership with Pastor Arnie Pierson at St. Thomas Lutheran Church for an incredible eight years to work with Arnie, Connie Sawyer, Betty Smith, Tom West, so many more, was just a highlight in a life filled with highlights! In 1982 he was given the opportunity to serve the campus ministry at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. Again the ''company of saints'' who gathered as that community of faith was sustaining, uplifting and just incredible. In 1988, following twenty-one years in campus ministry, Bishop Dennis Anderson and the Board of Directors of Nebraska Lutheran Outdoor Ministries gave him the opportunity to serve our camping ministry at Carol Joy Holling Camp, Ashland Nebraska where he served as Executive Director until his ''formal'' retirement in 2007. (He shared that he said to Bishop Andersen that he knew nothing about camping! -- Figure out the Lord on this one! Again an unbelievable group of partners: Roger Maxon; Dave Coker; Sunni Richardson; Jason Gerdes; Casey Fuerst and others including an opportunity to work with brother Gary, made a team that provided a context to vision and grow NLOM's camping and retreat ministry. While at Carol Joy Holling, he had the privilege of sharing the development of Operation IDEA, the Nebraska Synod's strategy to raise leaders for Christ's Church.

Upon retirement in 2007, Bishop Dave deFreese provided the opportunity to enter REFIREMENT, working with the Nebraska Synod Capital Campaign, and the Nebraska Lutheran Campus Ministry Board serving as its volunteer Executive Director. Subsequently, he served as Assistant to Jon Fredricks the new Executive Director until his (second) retirement from refirement, in March of 2019. In 2007, when he formally retired, the CEO of Tabitha ''took him in'' and gave him an office to refire from. Roger said many times ''Tabitha saved my marriage''! He explained that soon after his retirement, he must have been (unknowingly) lining up Jan's day for her, and she said: ''Honey, you need something to direct, and I'm not a candidate!'' (A message in there, and no so subtle!) He was so grateful to the leaders and staff at Tabitha for this place to hang his hat to work and volunteer from for more than a dozen years.

Over the course of his retirement years (formally 2007 until 2019), he spent summers with Jan, family and friends on Leech Lake. Walker Minnesota. He said his great work was the development of a ''research station'', the primary mission of which was studying the ''attack habits'' of the GREAT Norther Pike and how such informs our Lutheran mission work.

Roger quickly admitted that he was not so much a spiritual leader as a spirited leader, overwhelmed only by the joy and privilege of serving in Christ's church. Truly a grateful beneficiary of the many opportunities to serve that our Lord put in his path. As he ran his heart's hand over a wonder-filled life and the JOY he was continually allowed to experience, he shared that there were many experiences that brought him Joy, but there were ''those'' that literally brought him to his knees with gratitude. The unwavering loyalty and support of Jan! The never-ending love of Jill and Jana for their dad! The forgiveness of Mary! The unbelievable support of Minnesota and Nebraska friends and his family especially in the latter days of his life! He talked often with shaky voice of the ''gift of time'' he was given by his skilled doctors. And near to the heart of Lord Jesus Himself was the loving touch and words of encouragement his nurses and caregivers continually gave him! All the stuff of which miracles are made.

Roger was preceded in death by his parents, his beloved daughter Jana, many relatives and close friends. He faced death fearlessly, knowing that the ONE who had held his hand every single day of his life would hold it until the very day of his death and last breath! As he ''walked through the valley of the shadow of death,'' his face looked so forward to being reunited again with those who had gone before him that death was overshadowed! (However he admitted that more than occasionally he shared with our Lord that he'd like a little more time in his garage!) His entire Christology was simply ''the gift!'' of God through our Lord Jesus Christ! There are only two words that he said described his life - GRATEFUL BENEFICIARY! And his prayer always was simply ''thanks be to GOD and God alone!''

He is survived by his wife Jan, daughter Jill, Jan's children Doug(Terri), Dean(Cristy), Deric(Ivy), Dusty(Jolin) & Mindy(Erik), Brother Gary(Jean) , 12 grandchildren, 5 great grandchildren, many nieces and nephews and more. Along with countless friends.

Service of Resurrection will be held at Southwood Lutheran Church (4301 Wilderness Hills Blvd, Lincoln, NE 68516) on Thursday, April 18, 2024 at 10:30 a.m. In lieu of flowers, the encouragement of gifts to NeLCM, NLOM or Southwood Lutheran Church are suggested.

Online guestbook can be found at

Obituary Provided By:
Freeman Funeral Home
1249 E. 23rd St.
Fremont, NE  68025