Gordon College is heartbroken over the passing of Richard (Rich) Obenschain, founder of the La Vida Center for Outdoor Education and Leadership at Gordon College, on May 22, 2019. At 69 years old, Rich was a lifelong champion for the transforming power of outdoor experiential learning and a beloved member of the Gordon community for decades. He will be deeply missed.
Rich’s vision for encountering God and building character in the outdoors propelled La Vida to become a staple of the Gordon College experience, and home to numerous programs for children, college students and adults. Thousands of Gordon students, alumni and community members around the world credit Rich as the man who created the very experience that sparked real transformation in their lives.
But outdoor education was much more than a program to Rich—it was a way of life. For Rich, the words of Joshua 23:8 were a cornerstone: “But you are to hold fast to the LORD your God, as you have until now.” To “belay” means to “hold fast”—two words now engrained on the hearts of thousands. They accompany “be here now,” three other legendary words that have become inseparable from the La Vida experience.
A celebration of life service is planned for Friday, June 21, 2019, at 1 p.m. in the A. J. Gordon Memorial Chapel. All are welcome to attend.
In lieu of flowers, the family invites you to make a donation to La Vida to support Rich's ministry and lifelong passion. From the La Vida team: "We are blown away by the immense amount of support we have received from our wider community as we have mourned the loss of our friend and colleague. Throughout all programs that Rich created in his many years of ministry at La Vida, the role of community played an influential part. The outpouring of love and support everyone has given is a testament that Rich's community building continues in his absence. Thank you!"