Dr. George F. Wollenburg, president of the Synod’s Montana District for 22 years, died Aug. 18 at his home in Billings, Mont., after a two-and-a-half year struggle with lung cancer. Dr. Wollenburg’s wife of 53 years, Martha, and other members of their family were at his bedside. He was 78.
A funeral service is planned for 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 26, at Trinity Lutheran Church, 537 Grand Ave., in Billings. Visitation will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Aug. 25, at Smith Funeral West, 304 34th St. West, in Billings.
Dr. Wollenburg served as Montana District president twice: from 1969 to 1977, and again from 1992 to 2006. He also served three terms as an LCMS vice president: as second vice president from 1986 to 1989; fourth vice president from 1983 to 1986; and fifth vice president from 1977 to 1981.
Dr. Wollenburg also served on the LCMS Board of Directors (1977-81); the Commission on Theology and Church Relations (1974-83); and the Task Force on Higher Education (1983-86 and 1973-75).
Ordained in 1955, Dr. Wollenburg served as pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, Pleasanton, Neb. (1955-59); St. Paul (Bridger, Mont.) and St. John (Belfry, Mont.) Lutheran Churches (1959-66); and Christ the King Lutheran Church, Billings (1966-92). Prior to being elected district president in 1969, he served as the district’s first vice president from 1966 to 1969.
Dr. Wollenburg’s pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, Rev. Daniel Rinderknecht, knew the long-time district president for more than a decade and said he “commanded a lot of respect” and “was very articulate when he spoke on theological matters in the church.” He also had “a real pastoral heart … a real love for God’s people,” according to Rinderknecht.
“It’s been a real privilege to minister to him and be ministered to by him,” he told Reporter.
LCMS President Gerald Kieschnick described Dr. Wollenburg as “a man of God whose willingness to serve was matched beautifully by his forthright and passionate articulation of the grace of God and the forgiving love of our Lord Jesus Christ.
“While there was never any doubt about what George had on his mind, it didn’t take long in personal conversation with him to discern his heart, which was always full of love for the Lord, for his family, and for The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.”
Kieschnick added that “our prayers, love, and concern are extended to Martha, his dear wife of 53 years, their seven children, their 19 grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren.”
Memorials may be made to The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, 1333 S. Kirkwood Road, St. Louis, MO 63122-7295.
Updated Aug. 25, 2008