HORNELL-Donald Clarence Koehler, 86, passed away peacefully at home on Friday (June 7, 2019), surrounded by members of his loving family, who will miss him terribly and treasure his memory for the rest of their lives.
Don was born in Rochester, NY on May 11, 1933 to Lawrence and Lula (Rollain) Koehler. He grew up on South Avenue in Rochester, attended St. Boniface School and Aquinas Institute, and was a member of the first graduating class at St. John Fisher College in 1955. He married the love of his life, Constance (Adams) Koehler, in 1955 and moved to Hornell, NY in 1958 to accept a job teaching English at Hornell High School. Don was a cherished, creative, and dedicated teacher to thirty years of high school students. After retiring from teaching in 1988, he enjoyed a second career as a security guard at Morrison-Knudsen and Alstom from 1990-2003. He made his guard shed there a place of beauty and warmth (and was known to greet international visitors in their native languages).
As a parent and grandparent, as a teacher, and as a friend to many, he manifested an unceasing commitment to the lives and well-being of young people. The empathy and support he extended toward those who struggled are legendary among all who were blessed to know him. No one could have worked harder to provide for his family. In his evenings and summers ‘off,’ he worked a remarkable range of second jobs: home instruction, night school for GED students, coaching track, selling tickets at athletic events, advising the high school yearbook and newspaper, taking the census, painting houses, surveying land, and manning the counter of a candy store.
Don was an incredible gardener. Plants flourished under his hand, and his backyard was a work of artistry crafted over many years. He was a voracious reader of books and magazines, a whiz at crossword puzzles, and a lifelong baseball fan (first the Brooklyn Dodgers, later the New York Mets). He loved taking walks and smoking his corncob pipe. You knew his approach by the scent of Borkum Riff and peppermint. His children and grandchildren will cherish his many notes, humorous creations, and thoughtful gifts. He knew how to touch the lives of people around him and to make them feel special and loved. His blue eyes, delighted smile, and keen wit will live in our hearts forever.
Don is survived by his wife of 64 years, Connie Koehler, and their nine children: Stephen (Gesele Vallone) of Jamestown, NY; Kathleen (William Miller) of Ann Arbor, MI; Christopher (Lynda Thon) of Hornell; Daniel (Terri Hann) of Hornell; Elizabeth Laplante of Almond, NY; Mary of Ann Arbor, MI; Martha of Greensburg, PA; John of Hornell; and Margaret (John Wright) of Westerville, OH. He was the proud, devoted, and beloved grandfather of 23 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren (with 2 more on the way). He was predeceased by his parents, Lawrence Koehler and Lula (Rollain) Koehler, brother Larry Koehler, and sister Joyce Koehler.
The Bishop & Johnson Funeral Home, Inc., 285 Main St., Hornell is honored to serve the family of Donald C. Koehler.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated in his memory at 10 a.m. Thursday (June 13, 2019) at St. Ann’s Church in Hornell where Donald had been a communicant since 1958. At his request, there will be no calling hours.
A gathering of Don’s family and friends will take place after the Funeral Mass at the Sons of Italy Club on Erie Ave. Please drop-in between 12 noon and 3 p.m. on Thursday.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations in Donald’s honor to Catholic Charities of Steuben County, 23 Liberty St., Bath, N.Y. 14810. Envelopes for memorial contributions will be available at St. Ann’s Church on Thursday.
Online condolences or remembrances of Don are welcomed on the Facebook page of Bishop & Johnson Funeral Home, Inc. or at www.bishopandjohnsonfuneralhome.com.