Skip to Content

George Willenborg, DDS '55: For the Greater Glory of God

Donor Photo

George Willenborg, DDS '55

It's been nearly 60 years since he's graduated from Saint Peter's University, and George Willenborg, DDS '55 still lives by the Jesuit principle of ad majorem dei gloriam. "I have kept this motto in the forefront of my thinking throughout my life — to do everything for the greater glory of God," he said.

Willenborg has lived a rich and active life. Yet his local roots run deep. Born and raised in Hoboken, N.J., Willenborg's father was a wholesale food importer of German and Swiss delicacies. He would often accompany his father to the Fritz Reuter Lifetime Community in North Bergen, N.J. — the retirement home where he currently lives — to make deliveries. Willenborg was also a parishioner at Ss. Peter & Paul Church in Hoboken and attended its grammar school before enrolling into Saint Peter's Preparatory High School in Jersey City, where he played tackle on the football team under then coach the late Bill Cochran.

Willenborg went on to attend Saint Peter's College, where he majored in biology. "I was so indoctrinated in the Jesuit philosophy that the College was a natural choice for me," he said. He was involved in a number of activities during his collegiate career. He served as stage manager for Argus Eyes, then under the direction of the late director Roy Irving, and was also a member of the ROTC.

But it was his professors that had the most impact on Willenborg during his time at Saint Peter's. "The College taught me how to live and have a good life with a good moral and philosophical background," he said. "The professors taught me a lot more than dates and numbers."

For Willenborg, Rev. Joseph Schuh, S.J., a biology professor, was his spiritual guide and helped him all the way through college, and Fred Jacques '34, was not only his chemistry teacher, but also a good friend.

Willenborg credits these individuals with leading him to dental school. After graduating from Saint Peter's in 1955, he went on to attend Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. for dentistry and graduated in 1959. In 1960, Willenborg went on active duty in the United States Army and served for five years after taking a Regular Army Commission. It was here that he met his wife, Joan, a captain in the U.S. Army, at an officer's club in Valley Forge. After dating for three months, the couple got engaged and married six months later, in 1961, in the Walter Reed Medical Center Chapel.

Willenborg left the Army in 1965 to establish a dental practice in Branchburg, N.J., where he purchased property and converted the garage into a two chair office. However, after an unfortunate accident that left him unable to practice dentistry, he sold the practice and began teaching at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark, N.J. In 1975, he and Joan purchased a property in Cape Cod and designed and built a new home. Willenborg went on to teach at Tufts University in Massachusetts, where he focused on research in communication in dentistry and laser research — namely laser holography in medicine and dentistry — as part of the Center for Biomedical Communication from 1980-1990 before retiring.

Since his retirement, Willenborg has focused his interests on hobbies and crafts, such as creating Madonnas and other religious figures out of discarded altar candle wax, with donations benefiting local organizations. He also creates holiday decorations each season and donates them to the retirement home where he lives. "My most recent mission at Fritz Reuter is that I have taken up the practice of leading the Rosary on Saturday mornings in our chapel. I also offer Spiritual Communion, which is a tradition common to the Jesuits," Willenborg said.

In addition to using his crafts as a way to give back to the community, Willenborg also has several favorite charities which he supports, including Saint Peter's Prep, Catholic Charities USA and the Knights of Columbus. He has also provided for alma mater in his estate plans with a bequest in his will.

"Jody died in 2011. I spoke with my attorney about changing my will. I decided to provide for Saint Peter's in my estate plan because of what they had given me," Willenborg said. "I am also doing it out of loyalty because they were just wonderful years — very productive and enjoyable."

Willenborg encourages fellow alumni to make a similar gift, saying "It's a good idea and a very worthwhile use of your money."

And while Saint Peter's has changed much since his time as a student, there is one attribute Willenborg hopes will always remain the same: "My hope is that it remains loyal to its mission of ad majorem dei gloriam — for the greater glory of God."

Willenborg resides in North Bergen, N.J. He is one of five siblings: Helene lives in Upper Montclair, N.J. with her husband; Liz, a widow, lives in Brick, N.J.; and Paul is in North Carolina. His brother, Henry, is deceased.

Support Saint Peter's Mission
Contact Sharon T. Morrissey, M.B.A., M.Ed. '13 at (201) 761-6126 (office) and (201) 618-4230 (cell) or today to learn more about the variety of ways to support Saint Peter's through your estate.

eBrochure Request Form

Please provide the following information to view the brochure.

First name is required
Last Name is required
Please include an '@' in the email address

A charitable bequest is one or two sentences in your will or living trust that leave to Saint Peter's University a specific item, an amount of money, a gift contingent upon certain events or a percentage of your estate.

an individual or organization designated to receive benefits or funds under a will or other contract, such as an insurance policy, trust or retirement plan

Bequest Language

The official bequest language for Saint Peter's University is: "I, [name], of [city, state, ZIP], give, devise and bequeath to Saint Peter's University, 2641 Kennedy Boulevard in Jersey City, NJ 07306 [written amount or percentage of the estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose." 

able to be changed or cancelled

A revocable living trust is set up during your lifetime and can be revoked at any time before death. They allow assets held in the trust to pass directly to beneficiaries without probate court proceedings and can also reduce federal estate taxes.

cannot be changed or cancelled

tax on gifts generally paid by the person making the gift rather than the recipient

the original value of an asset, such as stock, before its appreciation or depreciation

the growth in value of an asset like stock or real estate since the original purchase

the price a willing buyer and willing seller can agree on

The person receiving the gift annuity payments.

the part of an estate left after debts, taxes and specific bequests have been paid

a written and properly witnessed legal change to a will

the person named in a will to manage the estate, collect the property, pay any debt, and distribute property according to the will

A donor advised fund is an account that you set up but which is managed by a nonprofit organization. You contribute to the account, which grows tax-free. You can recommend how much (and how often) you want to distribute money from that fund to Saint Peter's University or other charities. You cannot direct the gifts.

An endowed gift can create a new endowment or add to an existing endowment. The principal of the endowment is invested and a portion of the principal’s earnings are used each year to support our mission.

Tax on the growth in value of an asset—such as real estate or stock—since its original purchase.

Securities, real estate or any other property having a fair market value greater than its original purchase price.

Real estate can be a personal residence, vacation home, timeshare property, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land.

A charitable remainder trust provides you or other named individuals income each year for life or a period not exceeding 20 years from assets you give to the trust you create.

You give assets to a trust that pays the University set payments for a number of years, which you choose. The longer the length of time, the better the gift tax savings to you. When the term is up, the remaining trust assets go to you, your family or other beneficiaries you select. This is an excellent way to transfer property to family members at a minimal cost.

You fund this type of trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. You can also make additional gifts; each one also qualifies for a tax deduction. The trust pays you, each year, a variable amount based on a fixed percentage of the fair market value of the trust assets. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Saint Peter's University as a lump sum.

You fund this trust with cash or appreciated assets—and may qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction when you itemize. Each year the trust pays you or another named individual the same dollar amount you choose at the start. When the trust terminates, the remaining principal goes to Saint Peter's University as a lump sum.

A beneficiary designation clearly identifies how specific assets will be distributed after your death.

A charitable gift annuity involves a simple contract between you and Saint Peter's University where you agree to make a gift to Saint Peter's University and we, in return, agree to pay you (and someone else, if you choose) a fixed amount each year for the rest of your life.

Personal Estate Planning Kit Request Form

Please provide the following information to view the materials for planning your estate.

First name is required
Last Name is required
Please include an '@' in the email address