Adolf Gundersen was born in the parish of Åsnes in the traditional region of Solør in the county of Hedmark, Norway. He received his professional training in Norway and graduated from the Royal University of Oslo in 1890.
Gundersen came to La Crosse, Wisconsin to join the medical practice of Christian Christianson. In 1893, he married Helga Isaksaetre (1867–1951), with whom he had eight children. Four of the sons, Gunnar, Alf, Sigurd B. Sr. and Thorolf, joined their father in his first clinic, which opened in 1930 on the outskirts of the city. In 1944, Gundersen's physician sons created Gundersen Medical Foundation (now known as Gundersen Lutheran Medical Foundation). His eldest son, Borge, was in charge of Røisen, the Gundersen estate in Solør, Norway. 
Gundersen received the Knighthood of Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olaf, first rank, from King Haakon of Norway in 1926. He was made an honorary member of The Medical Society of Oslo in 1933. He was a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and in the Scandinavian Surgical Society, an honorary member of the Christiania Surgical Society. He was also a Regent of the University of Wisconsin System.
He is quoted as saying:
|“||Achieving the finest patient care requires continuous effort and study by individuals devoted to the advancement of medical science and practice.||”|
— Adolph Gundersen, MD. 1923, 
- Adolf Gundersen (Store norske leksikon)
- Hedmark. Åsnes herad. Røisen (Matrikkelutkastet av 1950)
- "Physician is father of family of doctors", Milwaukee Journal. May 4, 1930.
- "The Gundersen Brothers and the Growth of the Gundersen Clinic", Massachusetts General Hospital Surgical Society, vol. 6, no. 2 (Fall 2005).
- "Wisconsin Scandinavian Obituaries", The Whitehall Times, September 22, 1938.
- Gundersen Lutheran Health Plan (January 1, 2009)
- Orgensen, Ole. "Adolf Gundersen og hans sønner" (Nordmanns-Forbundet, 1982, 90-93.)