Leigh Donald Jordahl was born on July 13, 1925, and died on May 10, 2004.
A native of Decorah, Iowa, Jordahl graduated from the Decorah public school system and went on to attend Luther College, where he received his BA in classics in 1945. From there, he went on to Bethany Lutheran Seminary in Mankato, Minnesota, and then to Luther Seminary, where he received his Masters of Divinity degree. He also had a taste for history, leading him to expand his education, receiving an MA in history at the University of Minnesota, and a PhD in history at the University of Iowa.
Jordahl’s career traces a creative fusion of teaching, librarianship, and faith. In 1949, Jordahl was ordained as a pastor at Belview, Minnesota. Just three years later, he became an associate librarian at Carleton College, before moving on to become both head librarian and professor of classics at St. Olaf College. He came to Luther College as a librarian and professor in 1960, but only stayed (this time) for about a year. Moving to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, he also served as professor of church history at Lutheran Theological Seminary from 1964-1977.
Jordahl returned to Luther College in 1977 to become head librarian and professor, titles he held until retirement in 1985. However, even after retirement he continued to teach classes part-time at the college until 1999, and was a regular fixture in Preus Library up until his death.
A skilled academic writer, Jordahl authored many papers and essays, as well as several books. He authored The Wauwatosa Theology: John Philip Koehler and the Theological Tradition of Midwestern American Lutheranism, 1900-1930, and co-authored Stability and Change: Luther College in its Second Century with Harris E. Kaasa.
Ref: Obituary, Decorah Journal, May 13, 2004.