Donald Koehler

Donald W. Koehler

1930 - 2023

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Obituary of Donald W. Koehler

Donald Walter Koehler passed away peacefully at home on June 8, 2023, at the end of a long and full life. He was born in Maplewood, NJ in 1930, so premature that he and his twin brother were swaddled in shoeboxes.  He attended Columbia High School and was accepted into the United States Military Academy at West Point. Medical technicalities disqualified him from attending but his Plan B allowed him to fulfill his calling to work with young people and serve his country in another way. He received his BA from Upsala College in East Orange, an MA from Rutgers University, and served in the Army Reserve. While teaching at Metuchen High School, he met his wife of 47 years, Marilyn June.  They had four children.

Koehler devoted his life’s work to supporting public education. He was an accomplished high school principal, leading Millburn High School during early 70’s, before becoming principal of Moorestown High School, where he ended his career in 1986. He was known as both an inspirational leader and friend to students, teachers and staff, and could be seen frequently on the sidelines of many Moorestown athletic competitions no matter the sport.  He served as committee chair for the National Association of Secondary School Principals and was actively recruited to evaluate public schools across the country.  He was at the forefront of bringing AP courses to Moorestown High School, as well as advocating for technical training for students on vocational paths post high school. As a pioneer in global education, Koehler started a student and faculty exchange program with the Priory School in Lewes, England.  He served on the vestries of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Morristown, NJ, and Trinity Church in Moorestown, NJ, and was a member of Bruton Parish Church in Williamsburg, VA.  He treasured the friendships forged through the Rotary Club, serving as president of the Moorestown Rotary, and attending meetings everywhere he visited, coast to coast and overseas.

He and Marilyn retired to Williamsburg, Virginia in 1988, where they had vacationed with their family for many years. In his retirement, Koehler flew his American flag every day and embraced his home, community, and family with a unique tenderness and devotion that made everyone feel special.   

He volunteered as treasurer for the Williamsburg Salvation Army. His skills as a listener and mediator earned him a valued role on Williamsburg’s Historic Architecture Review Board. In the last few years he returned to his hometown of Maplewood, where two of his children live, engaging frequently with his large family and old friends and continuing to travel.  He was happiest doing the New York Times crossword puzzle, being with his family, cooking and enjoying his Manhattan at five o’clock. 

Donald was pre-deceased by his wife, Marilyn. He is survived by his sister, Virginia and his brother, Robert.  He was Dad to Pamela (Doug), Kyle, Donald (Amy), and Blair (Jeff).  He was Poppy to Lauren, Andrew, Caroline, Ursula, Serena, Danielle, Ethan, Kendall and Ben.  He was a great grandfather to Gustav, Mason and Griffin. 

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to a college scholarship fund in Donald’s name. Checks can be written to: “Moorestown Rotary Charities Inc” with “Donald Koehler Scholarship” in the memo line. Please mail to: Moorestown Rotary, PO Box 105, Moorestown, NJ 08057.  All are welcome to attend a memorial service on Sat. Sept 23 at 11am at St. Stephen’s Church, Millburn, NJ. 



Memorial Service

11:00 am
Saturday, September 23, 2023
St. Stephen´s Church
119 Main Street
Millburn, New Jersey, United States