Laborers For Christ

Dale Vogt: A Gift from God to Laborers For Christ

March 4, 2018 | Posted by Demian Farnworth

By age 85, the average American has been retired for about 22 years. Dale Vogt, on the other hand, was on his second retirement at that age.

“We told him it was probably okay to retire from the Laborers For Christ,” Vogt’s daughter Laura Adams said. Vogt’s side of the story is a little different. “They told me they were going to take my keys away.” He laughed.

His car keys were integral to his second career as a project manager, regional consultant and preconstruction coordinator with Laborers For Christ (LFC), a service provided by Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF) to help LCMS ministries save money on building projects. In all, Vogt spent around 25,000 to 35,000 miles a year on the road for over 30 years in 28 states on 304 projects during his “retirement.”

This is quite the accomplishment. No other laborer even comes close to his numbers. In fact, Marcy Scholl, former Ministry Support coordinator with LFC, said he’s worked on 35% of all LFC projects. At the 2006 Fall Leadership Conference, LCEF honored Vogt with the Fred E. Lietz Individual Ministry Award for his dedication, loyalty and hard work on behalf of the Church.

Humble beginnings

Shortly after graduating from high school, Vogt got his start in construction as a general laborer with Lovering Construction in St. Paul, Minn. Forty years later, he would retire as president and partner of the same company. After his retirement, Vogt looked at a couple of LFC projects and said, “This is something I would like to do.” He left for his first project in New Jersey a week later.

“Working for LFC gave him a new identity and he relished it and believed in the mission of expanding the Church for Christ’s sake,” said Rev. Dr. Tom Ries, president of Concordia University, St. Paul, Minn. “It was a marriage of his superb skills and his passion for Christ.”

Ries first met Vogt in the early 1980s. Vogt, still a partner with Lovering, had the contract to build a new residence hall at Concordia University, St. Paul, where Reis was assistant to the president. The two would cross paths again in 1987 when Ries took a call as a pastor at a mission start in Lakeville, Minn. Vogt served as an LFC project manager for their building project.

What stood out to Reis about Vogt was his “commitment to serving Christ. It was clear in his commercial and church work. He’s just a guy interested in people, in mission and cares deeply.”

“I just wanted to use my God-blessed talents to help our Church,” Vogt said. “My call was to do that for as long as I could.”

Adams says building churches was in her dad’s blood. “His grandfather helped build the Hidewood Township Lutheran Church in the late 1800s, when that generation of the family came from Germany and settled in South Dakota.” Hidewood still stands today.

This reputation for quality work lived on in Vogt. LFC project managers had been known to say, “If Dale Vogt is doing the preconstruction-I’ll take the job.”

In 1996, Vogt worked on the sanctuary addition at Lord of Life, Elk Horn, Neb. “He took great pride in what he did,” said Rev. David Linkugel pastor of Lord of Life. “Dale came back and visited afterwards to see how it turned out.”

Faith passing on to generations

For many years, his wife Doris accompanied him to the project sites. They lived out of their RV for eight years before Mrs. Vogt’s health started to decline. “It was always a worry for him to leave her when he went on trips,” Adams said. “But he had family to check on her when he was gone.”

There’s no doubt Vogt would have worked as a laborer for as long as he could. Even after his retirement from LFC, Vogt was active. He read stories to preschool students, prepared funeral lunches, folded bulletins every Friday morning, organized Bible studies at his retirement community, volunteered at the Minnesota South District office and sat on the Human Care Board at Christ Lutheran, Eagan, Minn.

However, even the indomitable Dale Vogt had limits. In July 2017, Vogt suffered a debilitating stroke. He’s currently in recovery at Augustana Care Center in Hastings, Minn., but this has been a difficult period for him. “You can see how this is taking a toll on him emotionally,” Adams said, “but he remains positive.”

Yet, he is reaping a spiritual harvest from his decades of loyal service to the Church. Not long ago, Amanda Worner, one of Vogt’s twelve grandchildren, joined Lord of Life, Elkhorn, a church Vogt helped build 30 years earlier. Furthermore, his great-grandson Brooks Worner was baptized at Lord of Life on December 17. Who knows, perhaps Brooks will become a great church builder like his great-grandfather one day. The odds are in his favor. Vogt already has one son and two grandsons who followed him into the Twin Cities construction business.

Dale, on behalf of LCEF and all those whom you loved and served, thank you.

Visit Laborers of Christ or call 314-885-6444 to learn more about Laborers For Christ.

Originally appeared in the 2018 winter issue of Lutheran Church Extension Fund’s official magazine, Interest Time. View a digital version here.

Demian Farnworth
Senior Content Writer for the Lutheran Church Extension Fund.