Kenneth George Koehler was born October 5th, 1940 in Fresno, California to German parents Rose and George Koehler and the brother to a younger sister, Sharon.
As a husband and father, Ken loved and supported his artistic wife, and helped raise 3 Renaissance children - infusing their childhood with Formula 1, trips to the symphony and ballet, and as many British comedies as he could find on PBS; effectively making their ability to find friends with the same reference points very challenging. And they loved every minute of it.
As a car fanatic, he explored his love of mechanical elegance and adventured with like-minded friends.
As a skier, he loved to navigate his way through the trees and ski off the groomed path, enjoying the freedom of discovering all the nooks and crannies the mountain had to offer.
As a lover of color, he filled his world with every shade of color he could find, from his pink pants to bright green ski outfits. You could always spot him in a crowd.
With a dry-wit and keen sense of humor, he could be found laughing heartily at all things British humor.
As a life-long learner, he sought to know everything he could about the subjects that interested him.
As a photographer, he used his artistic side to explore and celebrate the beauty and aesthetics of nature.
As an amateur chef, he channeled his mother’s kitchen talents into his own repertoire – from German delights and Sunday morning flinsa (crepes) to just making left-overs taste grand.
He met his wife, Betty Ann on a blind date. In classic Ken fashion, he took her to see the movie The Marquis de Sade. They were married on June 14th of 1970 and just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this year, surrounded by family at one of his favorite restaurants.
A job at Arnold Machinery Company brought them to Salt Lake City in 1978. The job part was important but being five minutes from the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon with the Greatest Snow on Earth was a "no brainer". Ken always said when he drove home at the end of the day, seeing the mountains was like going on vacation.
A natural introvert, he always found a way to connect with people through his passions. Above all, Ken was a person who fine-tuned his life with those things that made him, well, him.
SHARE YOUR MEMORIES:
To celebrate Ken's life, we would like to collect your stories, memories, photographs, or video messages. Please share them here on this page or you can email them to his daughter Andrea, firstname.lastname@example.org, who will compile them for sharing at a later date.
Sharing these memories of Ken offers us great comfort. We are planning to compile them and share them in a memorial book later this year. As we have updates, we will post them on the GoFundMe page.
FLOWERS / CARDS / CONDOLENCES
In lieu of flowers, we’ve created a memorial GoFundMe – Ken’s Final Victory Lap – to help with the end of life expenses and to support his wife and family.
If you would like to send a card,
The Koehler Family
7354 Promenade Circle
Salt Lake City, UT 84121
If you would like to call with condolences,
FOR THE LOVE OF CARS:
To say Ken had a "thing" for cars is not sufficient. As a young man who saw an advertisement for a Lotus Elan in the back of a car magazine, he spent $4000 of his hard earned money and only received a letter of confirmation and a date, 6 weeks later, to pick it up from the San Francisco docks. Trust and fortitude were strong with this one.
An avid auto racing fan and driver, he became a Rally Master for several auto clubs over the years. He used his logical, engineering, and creative brain to plot out complicated rally courses, challenge drivers, and to drive fast of course. The cars he owned reflected his love of the elegant nature of a thoughtfully design, well-engineered mechanical machine that is a car. Some of his favorites were his Alfa Romeos, the Honda NSX, Integra TypeR, and, most recently, the BRZ.
His love of cars often found him working on the family vehicles in the garage, listening to jazz and Car Talk on NPR, and mumbling a number of expletives along the way, saying "God understands when you're working on cars".
There wasn’t a Sunday morning from March to November where you wouldn’t find him in front of the television watching the latest Formula 1 race on Sundays, the sound or engines whizzing filling the basement.
MEET ME ON THE SLOPES
Ken started skiing long before he moved to Utah. But the move to Utah aligned with his love of the “white stuff”. His powers of patience were tested as he introduced each of his children to the mountain, teaching them how to ski – something that Colin and Andrea enjoy to this day.
In order to make skiing a bit more affordable, Ken found his way to being a host at Brighton Ski Resort. Although he was a natural introvert, he loved meeting and talking to all the skiers and then taking them up and showing them all neat little runs only someone who skied as much as he did would know about.
He skied as much as possible; during retirement, he usually made it up the mountain 3 or more days a week during ski season. Sometimes he’d go up just to take 2 or 3 runs - It filled him with that “little kid” happiness. You could always spot him on the mountain in his bright fluorescent green ski pants and his bright red or yellow Brighton Host jacket.
OFF COLOR (Literally and Metaphorically)
Skiing was not the only place that color played a significant part in his world. From a young age – it wasn’t just cars, but colors that stood out – quite prominently. As a teenager, he wore his favorite pink pants to school, not comprehending that they might not be well received. As an adult, he was famed for his Christmas outfit – red or green corduroy pants and his red plaid flannel button down shirt and matching tie.
His sense of humor was also pretty colorful – or off color if you will. From Black Adder, Dr. Who, Benny Hill, Good Neighbors, Monty Python - Ken reveled in all the British humor that the local PBS station could provide. When the kids returned home from their Saturday night’s out, their night wasn’t yet over. Ken was always up watching Dr. Who or Red Dwarf ready for them to join him for “just one more episode”. In fact, he passed away with Schitt’s Creek playing in the background.
Ken loved learning. Period. He loved being connected to the world. You would find him watching the local and national news and reading all the non-fiction books he could get his hands - from the Ayrton Senna's biography to Undaunted Courage to John Adams, he valued learning about how people pursued and achieved their dreams. He wanted to be well informed in order to be the best person he could be. He attended the symphony, the opera, and musical theater, museums and educational exhibits were the norm, and he took in as many movies at the Sundance film festival as he could. It was not uncommon for Ken to arrive at home and sit in the car until the NPR story he was engrossed in to finish.
Aligned with his love of all things mechanical, Ken took an early affinity to photography. This was the perfect marriage of his logical, technical side with his creative, artistic side. He played with color and light, arranging his compositions just so. He even built a photography dark room so that he could print his own photos in both black and white and color. With the garage as his studio, there were always family portraits in the making. His photographic adventures took him far and wide, one trip taking him on a private tour of Alcatraz, born of classic Ken shenanigans, where he got to explore and document places that no one else gets to see.
KEN & THE COOKING CHANNEL
If you knew Ken, you know that he had a voracious love of food. He always had a talent for cooking, which probably came from his mother who was the head chef at an elementary school (back when they had those). In his later years, we think he was trying to set the record for most cooking shows watched on the Food Network. This love for food also manifested in frequent calls to Shandra with 4 or 5 new restaurants for them to try. He leaves a legacy of recipes cut from the newspaper for us to try.
WITH HIS FAMILY
KEN & BETTY ANN:
They came together and bonded over their honesty and compassion for others. They were always there with a helping and kind words. Betty Ann provided another outlet for Ken's artistic side. While she was dancing with the ballet, he was known to help with the set design, for playing music for classes or to step in on stage at the last minute when they needed a fill in. Ken showed up for his wife and family with strength, support, and propriety.
Among the many things Ken shared with Andrea, they bonded over their voracious minds. They both followed their passions with a keen eye towards detail and with creativity. She was his first skiing pupil, teaching her how to swish down the mountain at 5 years old. He always had answers to ALL of her questions, even if the answer was "I don't know, we'll have to find out." He watched her as she traveled, encouraging her to experience everything she could get her hands on. He also knew that, like her mother, dancing was in her blood, so it was an obvious decision for him to take her to see Flash Dance in the movie theatre because he'd seen it the week before with Betty Ann and they'd agreed that Andrea would appreciate the dancing … the awkwardness of a father and his 10 year old daughter at a racy, rated R movie never crossed his mind.
Ken shared with Shandra her love for film, the arts and learning. They spent many long drives listening to his car hummmm while they talked about the wonders of the universe and the world of possibilities. Weekends were spent at the Tower Theatre seeing movies ranging from The Piano to Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Because, you know, who's dad doesn't like taking their daughters to arthouse movies about drag queens!
Ken shared with Colin the love of all things Automotive. One of the highlights for he and his son was when they build Colin's first race car - the whole shebang (engine swap, breaks, etc.) - in the dead heat of the July, 2002. They took that car to Laguna Seca and got to watch their hard work succeed with excellence and excitement.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Kenneth George Koehler, please visit our floral store.