Preus, Ove J. H. (1880-1951) | Nordic

Name: Preus, Ove J. H. (1880-1951)
Fuller Form: Preus, Ove Jacob Hjort

Historical Note:

Ove Jacob Hjort Preus was born January 21, 1880 at Spring Prairie, Wisconsin to Reverend Christian Keyser Preus and Louise Augusta Hjort.  His father was a well known Lutheran pastor and the second president of Luther College.  His mother was from an equally prestigious Norwegian American family.  Ove's brothers and sisters went on to lives in service to their church or country.

Ove Preus attended Luther College from 1895 to 1901 when he received a Bachelor of Arts.  From there he went to Luther Seminary in Connecticut and attained a Certificate of Theology.  Following his graduation in 1904 he spent two years in post graduate work at John Hopkins University in Baltimore before answering a call to serve a congregation in Tacoma, Washington in 1905.

In 1908 he married Amanda Magdelene Forde and they lived in Tacoma until 1910 when they moved to Los Angeles, California.  While in Los Angeles, Ove earned a law degree from Southwestern University, finishing his studies in 1916.  Upon completion of this degree he and Magdelene returned to the Midwest in answer to a call from Beloit, Wisconsin.

The service in Beloit lasted only two years before being called to De Forest, Wisconsin in 1918.  Here the family stayed until 1928.  Ove and Magdalene's family started to grow and eventually numbered six - one daughter and five sons.  In 1926, while pastor in De Forest, he was elected president of the eastern district of the Norwegian Lutheran Church of America and he retained both positions until 1929.

Two more moves where in the future for the Preus family - physically and professionally.  In 1929, Ove accepted the Presidency of Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  He held this position only three years before another presidency was offered to him - this time that of Luther College, his alma mater.  It was an election that was difficult to accept, but his life-long dedication to the needs of his church won out.  Facing formidable problems, he and his family returned to Decorah, Iowa to take over the leadership of the troubled college.

His presidency was not an easy time both for internal reasons and for the external challenges facing everyone during the recovery from the Great Depression and the onset of World War II.  But he weathered these with strength and intelligence, leaving Luther College in 1948 stronger than he had found it.  He stayed on at Luther as a professor of Bible Study and Norse Culture until his death at the age of 71 in Decorah in February of 1951.

Sources: 1993 Finding Aid.
Note Author: Shan Thomas, May 18, 1993.