Dr. John P. Kildahl

December 24, 1927June 17, 2019

John P. Kildahl, of Scarsdale and White Plains, NY, died on June 17, at the age of 91. Born in Owatonna, MN on Christmas Eve, 1927, John was the second son of Johan and Edith Kildahl. His father and grandfather were Lutheran ministers, and John was ordained in the Lutheran ministry in 1953, after graduating first from St Olaf College in 1949 and then Luther Theological Seminary in 1952. John’s only brother, Paul, died in action serving in the US Army in Italy in 1944. John enlisted in the US Navy upon graduation from high school in Webster, SD, and was in naval flight school when the war ended. John married Joyce Peterson, of Mabel, MN in August of 1951; they met at St Olaf in a Norwegian language class and had five children together, Kent, Margit, Lisa, Karl, and Ann. Joyce died in 2002, the love of John’s life. Their marriage together was a loving and wonderful partnership.

John’s professional life was devoted to psychotherapy and his goal of helping patients be happier, more productive, autonomous people. He earned his Ph.D in clinical psychology from NYU in 1957 and did additional training in psychotherapy at the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health and the William Alanson White Institute, both of which he eventually taught at. The author or co-author of eight books on the value of therapy, he saw the analyst’s role as that of helper and supporter; he never strayed far from the “pastoral” side of psychological assistance to patients. John was in private practice in Manhattan from 1958 until 2010. He also taught pastoral counseling at New York Theological Seminary.

An avid traveler with Joyce, and a cunning tennis and platform tennis player, John and Joyce owned and cherished a cabin at Highland Lakes, NJ for sixty years. He was a member of the Fox Meadow Tennis Club in Scarsdale, and a fifty-year congregant of Grace Lutheran Church. John maintained strong ties to St Olaf College, where his grandfather was president from 1899 to 1914.

John’s life was devoted to affirming the value and joy of human life. He was a devoted and deeply loving, supportive father, and in addition to his five children he leaves a legacy of deep affection with his sons and daughter-in-law - - Catharine Hill, William Burmeister, and Alan Highet - - and his eleven grandchildren: John, Tom, and Lizzy Kildahl; Katharine and William Burmeister; Alex and Sarah Highet; Jessica Kildahl; and Karin, Peter, and Nathan Honarvar. John lived a life of loving service to others to the day he passed into the next life. A funeral service to celebrate John’s life will take place on June 26 at Grace Lutheran Church in Scarsdale at 11am. A reception at Bennett Funeral Home, Scarsdale Ave in Scarsdale, from 5-7pm on Tuesday, June 25.


  • Memorial Visitation Tuesday, June 25, 2019
  • Memorial Service Wednesday, June 26, 2019


Dr. John P. Kildahl

have a memory or condolence to add?

Donna Bruckner

July 2, 2019

I was saddened to read of Johns passing! He always had such a warm smile whenever I would see him at Grace Lutheran, Although she has passed on as well, my Mom, Julia Bruckner Reader was so fond of John, She had very good memories of him.
My sincere sympathies to Johns family.

Ellen Shade

June 23, 2019

I met John as my first marriage was disintegrating. Soon after I began a 30 year career as opera singer, mostly in Western Europe(La Scala, Covent Garden, Salzburg Festival), and with the Metropolitan Opera New York, Chicago Lyric, San Francisco Opera, etc.
John patiently lead me through the ups-and-downs of the professional music world, not an easy task. When I was away performing, I wrote him and he always responded with excellent suggestions and advice. He helped me through the untimely death of my Mother, and lead me through the thicket to remarry. My second husband(of 43 years)and I frequently recall his positive demeanor and support.
He is present in our memory and is missed.