William P. Sihler

Member of the faculty and curator of the Norwegian-American museum (1890-1940)


Early Years

William P. Sihler was born on November 5, 1865 to Wilhelm and Susanna Kern Sihler. He attended college at Concordia College in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Sihler graduated from Concordia Theological Seminary at the age of 21, but "because he considered himself too young to become an ordained minister, unlike many of his classmates he did not enter active ministry" (Nervig 4). He earned his masters degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1888.

Sihler married Amalia Carolina Schust, his childhood sweetheart, in Fort Wayne on June 23, 1892. They had four children.

Years at Luther

William P. (Billy) Sihler (1865-1941)

A member of the Missouri Synod, Sihler was part of the Luther College faculty from 1890 to 1940. Although he primarily taught German, he also taught a wide variety of other subjects over the course of his tenure at Luther, including geography, religion, history, Greek, Latin, French, gymnastics, penmanship, music, and zoology. Known to most people as “Billy,” he also helped prepare the first tennis court at Luther. His experience playing professional baseball helped to promote the development of the game at Luther. From 1890 to 1895, Sihler served as the organizer and conductor of musical ensembles and during those same years was curator of the Norwegian-American museum. He authored the first chapter of Luther College Through Sixty Years: 1861-1921 entitled “The Foundation of Luther College.” Sihler passed away in July 1941.

Other Information

Sihler gave O. W. Qualley the nickname of "Pip" because that was "the name of the small but strong mediaeval king, Pippin the Short" (Jordahl and Kaasa 57).

Resources in the Luther College Archives

  • Luther College 1861-1961 by David T. Nelson
  • Stability and Change: Luther College in Its Second Century by Leigh D. Jordahl and Harris E. Kaasa
  • The Provocative Professor: The Billy Sihler Stories by Roland A. Nervig
  • William Paul Sihler -- collected materials

Works Referenced

  • Jordahl, Leigh D. and Harris E. Kaasa, Stability and Change: Luther College in Its Second Century, Luther College Press, Decorah: 1986.
  • Nelson, David T., Luther College 1861-1961, Luther College Press, Decorah: 1961.
  • Nervig, Roland A., The Provocative Professor: The Billy Sihler Stories, Luther College Press, Decorah: 1992.
  • Who's Who in the Luther College Archives

External Resources