Oscar Adolf Tingelstad, son of Bent and Beret (Livdalen) Tingelstad, was born on a homestead near Eiokson, Cass County, North Dakota (Dakota Territory), September 20, 1882. In 1892 the family pioneered again, this time near Silverton, Oregon. He passed the eighth grade public school examination in Marion County, Oregon, in 1898 and completed the commercial course at Pacific Lutheran Academy in Parkland, Washington on June 1, 1900. He attended the high school in Silverton, Oregon during the first year of its operation (1900-01) and completed the Luther College preparatory course at Pacific Lutheran Academy in 1902. He entered the sophomore class at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa during September 1902 and graduated in June 1905.
He gave up a position in the Farmers State Bank in Maddock, N. Dakota, to enter Luther Seminary in Minnesota on December 9, 1905 and then taught summer parochial school in Nelson County, North Dakota during 1906. In June 1907, Tingelstad was granted the “testimenium pro candidatura” from Luther Seminary because of the shortage of pastors in the Norwegian Lutheran Synod, and was ordained a Lutheran Pastor in Ballard, Washington on July 14, 1907 on call from the Crillia (Wash.) congregation and the Home Mission Committee of the Pacific District of the Norwegian Synod. He served Zion Lutheran Church at Ballard from July 14, 1907 to August 8, 1909 and also the Crillia, Port Madison, and Tracyton congregations. He also taught parochial school at Ballard throughout the summer of 1908. On August 4, 1909, he married Alfield Sophie Tvete at Arlington, Washington.
Having been called to be the first incumbent of the chair of psychology and education at Luther College, he attended the University of Chicago the in 1909 and began teaching at Luther College in January of 1910. There he served as acting principal of the Preparatory Department from 1911-12 and 1917-19, as Registrar (first incumbent of the office) from 1914-27, and as secretary of the Board of Trustees from 1923-1928. He also served as a Professor of psychology and education until 1919, as a Professor of Education from 1919-1928.
In 1912 he was elected to membership in Phi Delta Kappa—an honorary education fraternity—at the University of Chicago, where he received an A.M. degree in 1915, served as a fellow in education from 1913-1914, taught general high school methods in the School of Education in the spring quarter of 1925, and was awarded the Ph. D. degree (magna cum laude) in psychology and education at the end of the summer in 1925. Meanwhile, in the spring and summer of 1914, he served as assistant business manager of the Luther College Concert Band on its first Norway Tour and as the first secretary of the Young People’s Luther League from 1917-1922. He also served as a corporal in the Luther College Cadet Corps from 1918-1919.
During his academic career, Tingelstad published the following works: “Norgefärden” (“The Norway Tour”) jointly with Dr. O. M. Norlie in 1922 and edited “Luther College through Sixty Years again with Dr. O.M. Norlie and Dr. Karl T. Jacobsen in 1922. The subject of his doctoral dissertation in 1925 was “The Religious Element in American School Readers up to 1930: A Bibliographical and Statistical Study.” With Dr. O.M. Norlie and Rev. Rasmus Malmin, he completed “Who’s who in All the Norwegian Lutheran Synods in America” in 1928. In the summer of 1926 he served as the first manager of the Luther-St. Olaf Endowment Fund, after having been an alumni field agent throughout the endowment appeal. In the summer of 1927 he was Chairman of the Alumni Division of the Pacific Lutheran College endowment appeal. In 1928 he became a member of the A.A.A.S., and in 1934 was elected a fellow.
On August 1, 1928, he became the President of Pacific Lutheran College in Parkland, Washington and served in the capacity till July 1, 1945, during which period this institution advanced from junior college to senior college status. He also edited the quarterly “Pacific Lutheran College Bulletin” from August 1928 to May 1943 and served as Vice-President of the Washington Junior College Association from 1933-1934, and as president from 1934-1935. During World War II Tingelstad served as indoctrination instructor in the Trainee School for civilian employees at the Puget Sound Navy Yard in Bremerton, Washington, from August 2, 1944 to Sept. 16, 1945 prior to rejoining the staff of Luther College as professor of Philosophy and Bible from 1944-50.