Pastor Dan Rohlwing: A lifetime living leaps of faith
The local pastor, who died March 16, left a legacy of service in the Vail Valley
Celebrate Pastor Dan
There will be a visitation with the family from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Saturday in Vail Christian High School’s Grace Auditorium located at 31621 Highway 6, Edwards, Colorado, 81632.
A memorial service will follow at 2 p.m. The family will host a reception immediately following the service.
Instead of flowers, make donations to Grace Fellowship in Gypsum, Colorado (PO Box 4280, Gypsum CO 81637); Vail Christian High School in Edwards, Colorado (31621 Highway 6, Edwards CO 81632); and Gracious Savior in Edwards, Colorado (PO Box 250, Edwards CO 81632).
Editor’s Note: Pastor Dan Rohlwing, who died March 16, served the Vail Valley for more than three decades and appeared in many Vail Daily articles. His quotes are pulled from those stories.
EDWARDS — You’re remembered for what you leave, not what you have.
Pastor Dan Rohlwing will live forever in the heart of the Vail Valley.
Rohlwing founded two churches and helped found Vail Christian High School. Like most of us, he brought his dreams with him when he migrated to the valley on a circuitous route from Fort Wayne, Indiana. He worked as a CPA and earned his Master of Divinity in 1983 from Fort Wayne’s Concordia Theological Seminary.
Go West, young people
Rohlwing and his wife Kathy barely stopped for gas on their way from Indiana to the Vail Valley. They launched Gracious Savior Lutheran Church on April 1, 1984, meeting in Battle Mountain High School’s music room, then the auditorium as the congregation grew.
The church bought two acres on the corner of Highway 6 and Lake Creek Road in Edwards, where i still is. Back then Edwards was a long distance phone call from Vail, and about the only commercial enterprise was a vending machine outside the post office.
“In 1984, Edwards was considered so far out of the way that many of our members, as well as our district leaders from Denver, considered our purchase a disaster,” Rohlwing said. “Now it’s right in the middle of everything.”
Gracious Savior dedicated its building in April 1985, expanding and renovating many times since. The
“It’s a funny thing to look back at our beginnings as a church, worshipping in a high school music room and auditorium,” Rohlwing said. “I guess it shows how we’re forever connected to education. God leads us in directions we sometimes never imagine.”
Growing God’s school
In August 1998, Gracious Savior launched Vail Christian High School in some modular classrooms popped down around the church building. Rohlwing and many others argued passionately before county officials as the project worked its way through the approval process.
There’s a little confusion about who was the first to speak of the Vail Christian dream. At a Founders Breakfast a few years back, Rohlwing put it to rest in the room that bears his family’s name: Rohlwing Commons. It was his wife, Kathy.
Gracious Savior was having some financial problems, as most churches sometimes will. So of course, instead of pulling in their horns a little, they decided to start a Christian high school.
Behind the paint on every steel beam in Vail Christian High School are prayers and signatures written in permanent marker, as permanent as God’s love for them and their school, Rohlwing said.
Like any good story, Vail Christian’s includes some near-death experiences.
In March 2010, a Vail Daily headline screamed, “VCHS to close.”
Two weeks later, a headline conjectured, “VCHS may stay open.”
Two days later, the headlines proclaimed, “VCHS will stay open.”
Ironically, that was also the year the first Vail Christian alum graduated an Ivy League school.
“We didn’t know what the location was going to be, and God blessed us with this land. We have to remind ourselves sometimes that this is God’s school,” Rohlwing said.
Amid a challenging debut, the new whitewater park in Eagle made quite a splash during its opening season in the summer of 2019.