Steve Rasmussen-deceased

Steve Richard Rasmussen           

Steve Richard Rasmussen, 90, passed away at his home on March 11, 2018, with Margaret, his loving wife of 44 years, at his side.

He was born on Sept. 12, 192 in Chino, California.

He graduated from San Diego High School and joined the US Army, where he served during World War II and immediately after the war in Japan as part of the US Occupational Forces.

He married Jane Carol Smith in 1945. They had three children, Patrick, Jill and Susan.

He graduated with a Bachelor of Science from the University of Utah and taught school in La Sal, Utah. Moving his family to Henderson, Nevada, he taught science at Las Vegas High School.

He completed a Master’s Degree in physics from Oregon State University, then taught physics at Corvallis High School from 1956 to 1971. While there, he went on a sabbatical to Denmark in 1968-1969 for the Danish Teacher’s Institute, helping the Danish physics teachers to learn more effective teaching methods.

In 1971, he moved to Linn Benton Community College to teach physics. After 22 years at LBCC he retired in 1993.

He married Margaret Fay Hartell in 1974.

Steve received the Distinguished Faculty Award from LBCC. He was active in the American Optical Society, and in the American Association of Physics Teachers.

He was a member of the Elks Lodge for 38 years.

He had a bright and lively mind and many interests, and was constantly reading and learning. He was a ham radio operator, enjoyed being a pilot, and loved the outdoors. He sailed, camped, gardened, and enjoyed birdwatching.

He did beautiful cabinetry and woodwork and built the two houses in Corvallis he and his family lived in. He learned to cast metal and silver and made many lovely pieces of jewelry. He loved listening to classical music and the golden oldies of his generation.

He was a dedicated teacher and maintained lifetime contact with many of his students.

He was preceded in death by his mother, Lillian Marie Zint; father, Oscar Lund Rasmussen; and sister, June Kathryn R. Cox.

He is survived by his wife, Margaret Fay Hartell Rasmussen; children, Patrick (Eileen) Rasmussen, Jill Rasmussen, and Susan (Stanford) Young; grandchildren, Danielle, Shadrach, Hiram, Matthew, Seth, Katrina, and Forrest; nine great-grandchildren; and nieces and nephews. He was generous and loving to his family and was so proud of their accomplishments.


In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to your favorite charity.



Eulogy to Steve Rasmussen, at his funeral, March 16, 2018

It’s been my good fortune to have been Stephen Richard  Rasmussen’s physician for the last 32 years. I have felt particularly close to him and Margi during Steve’s last few years as he struggled with maintaining his ability to get around. But I wasn’t asked to give you a summary of his medical history. I was asked to talk today about “Mr. Rasmussen - the science and physics teacher at Corvallis High School, and later at LBCC”. I was fortunate to have been a student in Mr. Rasmussen’s physics class during the 1964-65 year. It was a perfect time to take high school physics, as I was a senior, and feeling a bit urgent to decide what I wanted to do with my life. Oh my, what a marvelous time for me to be mentored by this great teacher, and learn how things around me worked.

Mr. Rasmussen helped me discover the laws which govern physics in nature. I learned about speed and velocity and acceleration and deceleration. Vectors were especially fascinating – these forces could be measured by both magnitude and direction. When you understand vectors, you can design a bridge that will be safe for 100 years. We learned about work and energy and power, and how these concepts could be turned into building a machine. I still remember learning about force, the push or pull exerted on a body, and all the laws that applied to this topic. Now I could see what weight was, and gravity, and how the solar system stayed in place. Perhaps my favorite part of physics was wave motion, and how it explained sound and light. Coached by Mr. Rasmussen I built a wave machine that year which visibly demonstrated waves moving through a piece of hardened piano wire. I could go on and on.

I saved only one book from my Corvallis High School years: Schaum’s Outline of College Physics, which Mr. Rasmussen recommended. Mr. Rasmussen’s teaching style was filled with contagious enthusiasm. He loved what he was doing, and he made it possible for all the students to succeed. If a student struggled, he or she could take advantage of the invitations to everyone in the class to come in early before school, or during the noon hour, or after school, and sit down with the reel-to-reel tape recorders and headphones and listen to recordings Mr. Rasmussen had made explaining in fine detail every physics problem we were given as homework. He was so ahead of his time. He really wanted us to learn, and his explanations would always start with this question: So what do we already know that will help resolve this problem? What a great question to ask in any endeavor.

I yearn for those days in physics class, where we learned about physical laws like Newton’s first and second, that have not changed one bit. These are laws with no special exceptions, unchanging, stable and solid, the truth.

With a little help from my friends, I was able to obtain a few short notes of appreciation from others in the class of 65. Eric Blackledge said, “Steve was a great teacher and he stimulated my interest in physics and science in general. He was a real gentleman, and I will miss him.”

From John Pittman, our student body president, “I can recall Mr.Rasmussen sponsoring a slide rule contest for his students. It was conducted in the high school library at noon for an hour. Each participant was given a set of mathematical problems to solve using a slide rule. The top three winners received a new slide rule as a prize. I have to smile, because I still have my third place Pickett slide rule at home in my desk drawer. Today, although that slide rule is a relic from the past, it serves as a constant reminder of Mr. Rasmussen, my physics teacher.”

And from Don Swygard, “He was my biology teacher as a sophomore and my physics teacher as a senior. The one memory that stands out were his words to me at semester grade time in the physics classroom. He said, “Don, your grade average is a high C, but I believe you have learned more than the grade indicates, so I am recording your grade as a B”.” Don went on to say, “Steve’s compassion and understanding of how students learn served me well in my 30 year career as a science teacher in the Lake Oswego School District.”

I’m sure that there are hundreds of students that could contribute these kind of tributes to this master teacher. Mr. Rasmussen’s enthusiasm for the subject was contagious, and he knew that his students were discovering treasures every time they understood a new law of physics that allowed them to solve a problem. Problem solving was his middle name, and he wanted to adopt us all and give us this new middle name. A few years ago I read a review of a new best seller called “For The Love of Physics”, a book about a celebrated MIT professor of physics, and his innovative methods of teaching. I got home and ordered the book, and read it, and felt like

I was reading Mr. Rasmussen’s story. I decided to give the book to Steve and Margi, and wrote a note inside the front cover: “I’ll always be indebted to you for literally lighting me on fire for physics at a young age. My interest in “problem solving” as a physician goes back to your classroom.”

To Steve Rasmussen’s grieving family and friends, just know that according to the laws of conservation of energy (the first law of thermodynamics), energy cannot be destroyed, and we can trust that all the energy that came out of Mr. Rasmussen is still around...

...that is, all the sound waves generated by his voice that went into your and my ears as lessons in physics or as fatherly advice,

...and all the photons that went from his lessons into your eyes, maybe as he wrote with a piece of chalk on the blackboard, diagraming the laws of physics... comforted that his energy is still around, just a bit less orderly.

Mark Rampton



(feel free to make comments on this page or email comments to and they will be immediately posted. Thank you)

Hi fellow class of 65ers,

Yesterday, Steve Rasmussen, my beloved physics teacher passed away at his home in Corvallis. I was lucky to have had him for physics at CHS, because he really turned me on with his inovative teaching. And, I was lucky to be his physician for the past 34 years. 

My favorite memory of Steve was his several reel-to-reel tape recorders and headphone sets on the perimeter of the class, with all of the physics problems that were assigned as homework. Anyone who wanted to take the time could come in early before school, or during the noon hour, or after class and listen to Mr Rasmussen's great detailed explanation of the solution to each assigned physics problem. He was really ahead of his time. I feel he was the finest teacher I ever had.

His daughter, Susan, has asked me to speak about "Steve as a teacher" at his funeral on this Friday, March 16, at 11 AM at the LDS Church on Walnut Ave. I am interested in any memories that any of our classmates might have of Steve's teaching. If it is possible, could you all send this note out to our classmates, and ask them to respond to my email? My email address is: 

Thanks, Mark Rampton


His enthusiasm and passion for both his subject and the teaching profession was evident from the first day I walked into his physics class. It never waivered.  He would always greet you with a smile and a willingness to assist you if you need help.  Humor was an integral part of his personality and the class.  When I look back on it, he wasn't working, he was having fun.  I will always remember that about Steve as a teacher. 

Mark, you were indeed fortunate to know him all those years.  We have all lost a special person.

Thank you,

John Pittman


This is an example of Mr. Rasmussen's creativity as a teacher and his desire to reinforce student interest in science and mathematics.  I can recall Mr. Rasmussen sponsoring a slide rule contest for his physics students.  It was conducted in the high school library either at noon, or after school for an hour.  Each participant was given a set of mathematical problems to solve using a slide rule.  The top three winners, based on the number of correct answers they provided, were to receive a new slide rule as a prize.  I have to smile, because I still have my third place Pickett slide rule at home in my desk.  Today, although that slide rule is a relic from the past, it serves as constant reminder of Mr. Rasmussen, my physics teacher.

John Pittman