Otto K. Kohl, 96


Otto K. Kohl, 96, passed away on Sunday, March 3, 2013.

He was born on Dec. 30, 1916, in the town of Kohlsville to Henry L. and Elizabeth (nee Ruffing) Kohl. After graduation, Otto continued to work on the family farm. On Sept. 21, 1930, he was confirmed in the Christian faith at St. John’s church in Kohlsville.

At the age of 16, he joined his father on fire calls and began a long association with the Kohlsville Fire Department. He served as second assistant chief from 1943-1945 and as first assistant chief from 1945-1969. For many years, the fire call came to his home. He would sound the alarm and drive the pumper to fires in the area.

On June 17, 1939, he married Erna Rate at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in rural Allenton. Together they operated their dairy farm and, in early years, also raised pigs and poultry. Otto received the Sesquicentennial Farm Award at the Wisconsin State Fair in 2003. Upon retirement, he continued doing some field work for his nephew who had rented the farm land.

During those later years, making firewood, an activity he enjoyed since he was 10 years old, became a prominent past time. He split wood with a wedge and axe until he was nearly 93 years old. He also enjoyed taking photos, gardening and caring for his cats. Children of relatives and neighbors hold a special place in his heart. His memory of people and events of the past was remarkable. He entertained with those stories, sometimes inserting a “tall tale” to see how gullible the listener might be. He resided at Cedar Community from February of 2010 until his death. The family extends a heartfelt appreciation to their Countryside staff for their compassionate care.

Otto is survived by his daughter Janice (Harold) Ehlke; grandchildren Lisa Ehlke and Daniel (Tracey) Ehlke; and step-great-grandchildren Austyn and Kobe LaCharite. He is further survived by his sister in-law, Grace Rate, nieces, nephews, relatives, and dear friends. Otto was preceded in death by his wife Erna and sister Sylvia Heinecke; brothers-in-law Roland Rate and Marvin Rate; and sister-in-law Mary Rate.

A funeral service for Otto will be at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 8, 2013, at the Phillip Funeral Home Chapel, 1420 W. Paradise Drive in West Bend, with the Rev. Steven Bode presiding. Visitation will be at the funeral home from 5-6:45 p.m. on Friday, March 8, 2013. Interment will take place at Washington County Memorial Park.

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to Zion Ev. Lutheran Church or the Kohlsville Fire Department.

The Phillip Funeral Home of West Bend is assisting the family; (262) 338-2050 / www.phillipfuneralhome.com.