Professor of classics, 1873-1877
(This series of Notable Faculty profiles was written in celebration Augustana's sesquicentennial in 2009.)
Neils Gustav Albert Wihlborg was born on July 9, 1848, in Malmo, Sweden. His father was a landscape gardener and his mother was the daughter of a pastor. He studied theology at the University of Lund.
Wihlborg had a beautiful tenor voice, and put his talent to use by forming a quartet with three other men and performing at weddings, funerals, and church services. Upon his graduation from the University of Lund, Wihlborg could not find a job as a pastor. He thus began working as a private tutor in the home of Pastor Heumann, and later, in the home of Count Reuterschoeld. It was in the Count's home that Wihlborg met his wife, Verena Ryser, governess to the Count's four daughters.
In 1873, Wihlborg came to Rock Island, Illinois to be the new Latin, Greek, and Hebrew Professor at Augustana College. The Catalog for the 1873-1874 school year also lists Wihlborg as the leader in singing rehearsals. Once Wihlborg was settled in, he sent for his fiancée. Rev F. Lagermann, another professor at Augustana, still had a fiancée living in Sweden too, so the two men arranged for their brides to come to Rock Island together. They were married in a double wedding ceremony by Augustana's Reverend Anders Cervin. Together, Wihlborg and Verena had two girls, Hedwig and Ingrid.
While Wihlborg liked teaching and was respected by his students, he was growing uneasy with the Augustana Synod. He, along with Professor Lagermann, began attending a German Lutheran Church, which belonged to the Missouri Synod. After approving of the Missouri Synod's doctrine, Wihlborg and his family became members of the church. Augustana College was unhappy that Wihlborg had rejected their doctrine and dismissed him in 1877.
After being released from his duties at Augustana College, Wihlborg and his family traveled west in 1878 and opened a store in Montevideo, Minnesota. Wihlborg held a few teaching positions in Minnesota and Michigan. In 1892, he finally found a job as a pastor. He was ordained in a Norwegian Church in St. Paul and was assigned a Norwegian congregation in Michigan. He was a pastor in several other congregations throughout Missouri and Minnesota. Finally, the family moved to Concordia, Missouri, where Mr. and Mrs. Wihlborg lived the rest of their lives. Wihlborg died on December 25, 1928, after several years of failing health.