Pilot, Aircraft Owner, Businessman Terry J. Kohler

(May 14, 1934 – September 20, 2016)

SHEBOYGAN, WIS. – The only son of the late former Governor Walter J. Kohler, Jr. and Marie Celeste McVoy Kohler, Terry J. Kohler, 82, of Sheboygan, passed away September 20, 2016.

Kohler served his country in the U.S. Air Force from 1955 to 1959 where he earned his pilot’s wings and flew T-33 fighters and also B-47 bombers with the Strategic Air Command, including missions over Russia. Kohler achieved the rank of Captain.

Following his military service, Kohler continued his love of flying by owning and flying many types of aircraft, including helicopters. He was also a founding member of the Aviation Heritage Center of Wisconsin. He received a Bachelor of Science Degree in industrial management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1962, and a Master of Business Administration from the MIT Sloan School of Management in 1963.

Kohler started working in the family business, The Vollrath Company, in 1963. In 1976, he became the seventh President of the company. He became Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer in 1982, and under his leadership the company expanded dramatically.

Kohler was united in marriage to Mary Stewart Simpson in 1981, and together they were instrumental in the ultralight led Whooping Crane Recovery Project between Wisconsin and Florida. In 2009, they were awarded the Charles Lindbergh Award, which is given annually to individuals whose work over many years has made significant contributions toward Lindbergh’s concept of balancing technology and nature.

Kohler was passionate about conservative politics, and was Wisconsin’s GOP candidate for Governor in 1982, and a GOP candidate for the U.S. Senate in 1980. He and Mary helped craft the “Contract with America” with Newt Gingrich and other Congressional Republicans.

Kohler is survived by his wife of 35 years, Mary, children and grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents and sister, Charlotte Nicolette “Niki” Kohler.

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