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Don L. Aalborg

From Southwestern Union Record, October 1989.

Aalborg, Donald Lee (1929–1989)

By Douglas Morgan


Douglas Morgan is a graduate of Union College (B.A., theology, 1978) in Lincoln, Nebraska and the University of Chicago (Ph.D., history of Christianity, 1992). He has served on the faculties of Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Maryland and Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, Tennessee. His publications include Adventism and the American Republic (University of Tennessee Press, 2001) and Lewis C. Sheafe: Apostle to Black America (Review and Herald, 2010). He is the ESDA assistant editor for North America.

First Published: January 16, 2024

Don L. Aalborg served as a pastor-evangelist and in conference administration as a youth director, educational superintendent, executive secretary and president, during 37 years of ministry, 23 of them in the Georgia-Cumberland Conference.

Aalborg was born February 2, 1929, to Lee (1895-1972) and Winifred Lopp Aalborg (1898-1982), who farmed in Hurley, South Dakota. The youngest of three children, Don’s elder siblings were a brother, Dale (1920-2014), and a sister, Ardis (1921-2009). Harsh economic circumstances during the Great Depression of the 1930s prompted a move to Palisade, Colorado, where his parents acquired a peach farm. The nearest church school, located in Grand Junction, was too far away, under their circumstances, for a daily commute, so Don’s parents arranged for him to stay with a family near the school during the week so that he could experience an Adventist education. For high school he attended Campion Academy, the Adventist boarding school in Loveland, Colorado.1

At Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska, Aalborg studied for ministry and met Carol Ellis (1929-2009), a home economics major from western Nebraska. They married on May 27, 1951, in a ceremony at College View Church in Lincoln. They would have one daughter, Pamela Sue (McVay).2

After graduating from Union in 1952, Aalborg began pastoral-evangelistic ministry in Oklahoma. He was ordained in 1956 and in 1959 was appointed youth director and educational superintendent for the Oklahoma Conference.3

In 1965, Aalborg accepted a call to serve as youth director for the Georgia-Cumberland Conference. The position came with a major responsibility—rebuilding Camp Cumby-Gay, the conference youth camp. He and Carol, assisted by daughter Pam, became noted for the quality of their supervision of summer camps that had a positive impact on hundreds of youngsters each year.4

Remaining in the same conference, Aalborg accepted the position of educational superintendent in 1970. During his eight years in that capacity, he completed a master’s degree in education at Georgia State University. In 1978, Aalborg was again called to a new role in the Georgia-Cumberland Conference, that of executive secretary, a position he held for 10 years. During these years, he oversaw development of the Cohuttta Springs Adventist Center that served both as a new youth camp and venue for retreats and conferences held by organizations within and beyond Georgia-Cumberland.5

The Texas Conference elected Aalborg as its president in June 1988. Less than a year later, though, he began a battle with cancer that extended over several months. He died at age 60 on September 8, 1989, at Hugueley Memorial Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas.6 After Don’s death, Carol Aalborg, his partner in ministry and wife for 38 years, took a part-time position as a receptionist at the Texas Conference office in Keene, Texas. She continued serving in this way until age 80, when an automobile accident near Keene took her life in 2009.7

A. C. McClure, president of the Southern Union Conference from 1980 to 1990, wrote that Don Aalborg consistently displayed certain characteristics in all the varied positions he held: “total commitment, superb organization, thorough execution, punctuality, and very hard work.”8


“Donald Lee Aalborg.” FamilySearch. Accessed January 16, 2024.

“Life Sketch: Carol Ellis Aalborg (1929-2009).” Find A Grave. Memorial ID 35858362, April 14, 2009. Accessed January 16, 2024.

McClure, A. C. “Tribute to Don Aalborg.” Southern Tidings, October 1989.

Schnell, Brenda. “Texas Conference President Dies.” Southwestern Union Record, October 1989.

Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia. 2nd rev. edition. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1996. S.v. “Aalborg, Don L.”

“V. Carol Aalborg obituary.” Lincoln Journal Star, April 16, 2009.


  1. Brenda Schnell, “Texas Conference President Dies,” Southwestern Union Record, October 1989, 17; “Donald Lee Aalborg,” FamilySearch, accessed January 16, 2024,

  2. Schnell, “Texas Conference President Dies;” “Life Sketch: Carol Ellis Aalborg (1929-2009),” Find A Grave, Memorial ID 35858362, April 14, 2009, accessed January 16, 2024,

  3. Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, 2nd rev. edition (1996), s.v. “Aalborg, Don L.”

  4. Schnell, “Texas Conference President Dies;” A.C. McClure, “Tribute to Don Aalborg,” Southern Tidings, October 1989, 31.

  5. Schnell, “Texas Conference President Dies.”

  6. Ibid.

  7. “V. Carol Aalborg obituary,” Lincoln Journal Star, April 16, 2009, B4; “Life Sketch: Carol Ellis Aalborg (1929-2009).”

  8. McClure, “Tribute to Don Aalborg,”


Morgan, Douglas. "Aalborg, Donald Lee (1929–1989)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 16, 2024. Accessed June 18, 2024.

Morgan, Douglas. "Aalborg, Donald Lee (1929–1989)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 16, 2024. Date of access June 18, 2024,

Morgan, Douglas (2024, January 16). Aalborg, Donald Lee (1929–1989). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved June 18, 2024,