Evanson, Chellis N. (1896-1983) | Nordic

Name: Evanson, Chellis N. (1896-1983)
Fuller Form: Evanson, Chellis Nathaniel

Historical Note:

Chellis Evanson entered Luther College in 1911.  After graduating from Luther in 1918, he served the last year of World War I in the United States Navy where he was stationed on the flagship, Pennsylvania.  In 1919, Evanson returned to Luther College to accept a position as Professor of History.  That same year he became the head of the History Department following the death of his mentor, Knut Gjerset.

Evanson had an unorthodox style of teaching; a style much less structured than Gjerset's.  Some students found  themselves capable of "getting by" without reading all the material he assigned.  Other students, those truly interested in history, found his classes fascinating.  One of his students, John Gimbel, went on to teach with Evanson at Luther College from 1950-1959.

During World War II, Evanson stayed in contact with Naval recruits from Luther.  He composed a newsletter entitled, "Scuttlebutt" which he sent to the navel recruits and eventually to all servicemen from Luther.  He also corresponded with Luther College servicemen which resulted in the remarkable collection of 707 letters found in Evanson's personal papers.

Evanson remained a strong supporter of the Navy and an active member of the American Legion all of his life.  He was also active in the Decorah community as a member of the local school board and many other organizations.  Evanson, along with David Th. Nelson and area veterans organizations raised money to place a war memorial in the Main Building at Luther College.  The bronze pages honor all the men and women who served in the American Armed Forces in World Wars I and II.

Evanson retired from teaching in 1966.  He and his wife continued to live in Decorah.  He died in 1983 at the age of 87.


Jordahl, Leigh and Harris Kaasa, Stability and Change: Luther College in Its Second Century, Luther College Press, Decorah, Iowa (1986)

Nelson, David T., Luther College: 1861-1961, Luther College Press, Decorah (1961)

Note Author: Shan Thomas & Mark Engebretsen