|Birth: ||Apr. 17, 1900|
|Death: ||Jul. 2, 1993|
KOEHLER, BEN GUND—Ben Gund Koehler was born April 17, 1900, in Geneva. He was the second of five children born to Barthold and Clara Hoover Koehler. He grew up in Geneva in the family home at 1231 G Street, with his two brothers, John and George (Barthold died in infancy) and his sister Louise (Picard).
He passed away at the Fillmore county Hospital in Geneva on Friday, July 2, 1993, at the age of 93 years.
He attended Geneva Public Elementary and High School, graduating in the class of 1917. He played on the school basketball and football teams as well as playing cornet in the band. He also studied piano and accompanied for many musical groups and events. One year, while in high school, he rode the train to Lincoln every Saturday to study piano.
In the fall of 1917, he enrolled at the University of Nebraska where he was on the freshman football squad. After only a short time, though, he withdrew from the University as he had been appointed by Representative Charles Sloan to the United States Naval Academy. He spent the winter of 1917 and 1918 in Washington, D.C., attending a prep school for the Academy.
He entered the Naval Academy in the fall of 1918, where he again went out for football, playing first on the freshman squad, and then on the varsity level for three years. In 1920, ne made the only touchdown in the Army-Navy game, which the Navy won 7-0.
Ben graduated from the Naval Academy in 1922, but resigned his commission upon graduation in a procedure which had been set up by the national Disarmament Conference. He returned to Nebraska and during 1922 to 1923 coached football at Cotner College in Lincoln.
On November 5, 1924, he was united in marriage with Virginia Lee Garrett of Dresden, Tn., and Washington, D.C. She was the daughter of Finis James and Elizabeth burns Garrett. At the time of the marriage, Virginia’s father was a Representative in Congress from Tennessee and Minority Leader. Ben and Virginia had met at a dance at the Naval Academy.
After their marriage, they went to Cottage Grove, Or., where Ben was employed by Standard Bridge Company, who was developing a new kind of drying process for lumber. They remained there until early 1925, when they moved to Bogalusa, La., where Ben worked for the Great Southern Lumber Company.
In 1927, they returned to Geneva where Ben joined his brother, John, in the family business. A. Koehler Company, a grain and lumber company. Until his own death in December, 1926, their father, Barthold, had run it alone after the death of his brother, Anthony.
Ben and John spent their careers together managing and expanding the business. Ben retired in 1968 when the lumber division of A. Koehler Co. was sold. In 1966, he had been cited for his service by the National Lumber and building Material Dealers Association. John continued until 1973, when the grain and other parts of the company were also sold 88 years after the founding of the company in 1885.
The two brothers and John’s family were in an automobile accident in 1945, in which John’s older daughter, Mary Louise, died. All four others were seriously injured, but made good recoveries. Ben not only sustained brain injuries, but also lost all sight in one eye as well as the peripheral vision in the other.
Ben and Virginia Koehler were particularly devoted to one another and to their daughters, Suzanne and Virginia. They were expansive and charming people, frequently welcoming family and friends to their large, comfortable, inviting home which was also a second home to all six of their grandchildren. Virginia was even closer by Ben’s side after his accident and her faithful companionship with him in his declining years spoke of her love and grace to all who knew them. Virginia died in May, 1989, grieving that she could not “see Ben through.”
Ben was a member of the community Club, Rotary, American Legion, the Masons, (honored as 50 year member-now 71), and of Phi Delta Theta. He was a past president of the school board (1936-37). He was a member of First Congregational United church of Christ where he served on the board of Trustees, as a member of the choir, and taught Sunday school to high school boys, as a young man and to another high school group in his retirement.
Music was his great joy, his avocation, and his way of giving service in his community. He served as accompanist for nearly every organization to which he belonged. Music was also central to his home as he taught his daughters to sing and saw that they took piano lessons.
He played nearly every day and had his daughters singing with him. Friends loved to gather around the piano and sing along. This may be the way people remember Ben most—at his piano.
Certainly the phrase” beloved by all who knew him” was never more appropriately applied to any man, and even dying in his great age, he leaves many family and others who will cherish his memory and mourn his loss.
Ben is predeceased by his wife, Virginia Garrett and two brothers, John H. and George L.
He is survived by two daughters, Suzanne Brinkman and Virginia (Robert) Knoll; grandchildren Cynthia Brinkman Jackson and Lt. Col Steven Jackson, Karl Brinkman, Barthold Brinkman and Patricia Rosenau Brinkman, Elizabeth Knoll and Steven Graubard, Sarah Knoll German and Milo German, Benjamin Knoll and Andrea Van der Tuin Knoll; eight great-grandchildren; sister, Louise Koehler Picard (Mrs. Charles); and sister-in-law, Evalyn Armstrong Koehler (Mrs. George).
Memorial services were held Wednesday, July 7, 1993, at 11:00 a.m. at the First Congregational United Church of Christ, with the Rev. Wanda Bennett officiating. Nancy Cradduck accompanied Karl Brinkman who sang “Eternal Father, Strong to Save” and “God of Our Fathers,” and the congregation who sang “O god Our Help In Ages past” and “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee.”
Private family committal services were held at the Geneva Public Cemetery.
The Nebraska Signal July 1993
Barthold Koehler (1865 - 1926)
Clara Elizabeth Hoover Koehler (1870 - 1956)
Virginia Lee Garrett Koehler (1903 - 1989)*
John Hoover Koehler (1897 - 1978)*
Benjamin Gund Koehler (1900 - 1993)
George Lynn Koehler (1904 - 1984)*
Barthold E. Koehler (1906 - 1906)*
Clara Louise Koehler Picard (1909 - 2011)*
Maintained by: Mary & Kent
Originally Created by: M. Jensen Seggerman
Record added: Jul 20, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 93924372