John Oster, born of Nebraskan trail dirt, epitomized the life of a compassionate conservative. He was born in Gordon, Nebraska, on October 13, 1936, in the Governor’s house to John and Edith Oster. He was followed five years later by Harold, his taller, now California-tanned, brother.
Growing up in the Nebraskan Sand Hills, it should come as no surprise that John was active in football, blowing up holes in the defensive line so his team’s running backs could make it to the end zone. This is the Nebraskan way. But in rebuke to those who think the “N” on the Nebraska helmets stands for “knowledge”, you might be surprised to learn that this Nebraska ranch hand also excelled in speech and drama.
After high school, he attended Chadron State College on a teaching scholarship. And so upon graduation, he became a high school English teacher in Bassett, Nebraska, for three years to fulfill his scholarship commitment. Ironically, scholarships in those days were not as much as today, and so for $75, John honored his word and tried to convince high school students to care about grammar for three years.
But as soon as his three year commitment was completed, he fled the teaching profession to pursue his real career passion - journalism. His love for writing, reporting truth and uncovering injustice (insurance conspiracies) would dominate his entire life. He soon took a job with the Scottsbluff Star Harold as a copy editor. But after winning several awards for his journalism, he was quickly promoted through the ranks. Within a few years, he went from a wire editor, to farm editor, to feature writer, to city editor, and finally to managing editor.
It was during his days in Scottsbluff that he was blessed to cover many national stories. In fact, just a week before Robert Kennedy was assassinated by a gunman, John got face to face with this presidential candidate with his camera, and noted how easy it was to get so close to such an important person.
While in Scottsbluff, he met his future beautiful wife of 47 years, Delores (Dee) Buttermore, who was in Scottsbluff while on vacation from Miltonville, Kansas. Dee was the daughter of Rev. Wendell and Alvina Buttermore. At the age of 28, he married Dee on August 28, 1964. While living in Scottsbluff, John and Dee had two boys - Johnny and Jeff.
Although he enjoyed his duties as a managing editor, John felt a call on his life to Christian journalism. He began this pursuit by moving his family to Columbia, Missouri, and began taking graduate classes from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. While there, he served as a managing editor of the Kingdom Daily News in Fulton, Missouri.
John soon got his opportunity to work full time in Christian journalism when a writing position opened at the Nazarene World Headquarters in Kansas City. He began working in the Home Missions department under Dr. Raymond Hurn, future General Superintendent in the Nazarene Church. One of his first assignments was to research and write on how the Nazarene Church could improve race relations within the church.
Soon after moving to Kansas City, John and Dee’s youngest, Joel, was born. They lived in North Kansas City, and went to Gladstone Church of the Nazarene. By 1976, they had moved to Olathe, Kansas, so his kids could attend schools in the Olathe school district and attend College Church of the Nazarene.
John continued his calling to Christian journalism at Headquarters for 24 years in Home Missions, Sunday School Ministries, and Pensions and Benefits. During this time, he authored three books: Communication & Growth, Mission Possible Churches and Serving Those Whose Serve.
Upon retirement, he decided that rather than joining a health club, he would work part-time in the meat department at Hen House and then Price Chopper. He once remarked that you have never worked out until you have worked in a Hen House meat department the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
John loved his church – Olathe College Church of the Nazarene. He worked in Bus Ministry for over 15 years, bringing people both young and old to church. He enjoyed his Sunday School class, the Challengers and Ambassadors, and found special delight in the way Jim Smith ministered to its members. He was involved in small groups and even leading one. He regularly participated in College Church’s Victor presentation, being a disciple of Jesus.
John devoted a good part of his life to the Gideons. Serving in various roles, including president, vice-president and volunteer, he regularly placed bibles in hospitals, hotels, and schools.
His love for church and government lead John to a life-long pursuit of how Christians can use their faith and beliefs to make a positive impact in their communities. He wrote two books, titled The Activated Church and Vote Your Faith that speaks to the importance of Christians speaking out within their sphere of influence.
John loved to study one’s heritage, and found particular delight in researching the Oregon, Sante Fe, and the California Trails. He wrote about these trails on his website, http://www.beulahland.us. John’s trail was one that went through many great places and saw many exciting things. But most important to him, was where his trail was headed, and where he has arrived – at home with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
John passed on to Heaven on March 22, 2012, at 6:50 in the morning, in Olathe, KS at the home of his oldest son, Johnny. He is survived by Harold, his brother, from Culver City, CA, Dee, his wife, of Olathe, Johnny and Donna, JD, and Caleb from Olathe (eldest son), Jeff and Kristi, Grace, and Kathryn (middle son) from Eugene, OR, and Joel and Wendi, Zak, and Luke from Shawnee (youngest son), along with many family members across the country on Dee’s side. He was preceded in death by his mother Edith, father John, along with Jimmy and Jodeen who were stillborn. In lieu of flowers all donations may go to Gideons International or College Church Senior Adult Bus Ministry.
The service will take place at College Church of the Nazarene in Olathe, Kansas, Saturday March 31, at 1:30pm, in the sanctuary. Visitation will be Friday, March 30, from 6-8pm, also in College Church of the Nazarene’s sanctuary.