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John Willis Kohl

Posted by joyeebk@gmail.com

John W. Kohl was born May 23, 1929 in McGregor, IA to Willis W. Kohl and Anna Zahn Kohl. He died August 1, 2021 at home in Sun City West, AZ.

A passionate advocate for public education, John received a B.A. in education from the University of No. Iowa in 1951, an M.E. in 1962 and an Ed.D. in educational administration in 1967 from the University of Oregon. He began his teaching career in Bennett, IA in 1951. After a move to Oregon, he taught and coached before beginning graduate work and becoming a school superintendent at Alsea in 1957, a high school principal at Pleasant Hill in 1959 and high school principal at Clackamas HS in Milwaukie, OR in 1964. In 1967, he joined the graduate education faculty at Penn State where he also served as Director of the Center for Cooperative Research with Schools, Director of the Pennsylvania School Study Council, and Pennsylvania Director of the Appalachian Regional Education Laboratory. He was the first executive director of the National School Development Council.

In 1971, he and his family moved to Montana State Univ. to become Assistant Dean of Education and later Dean. At MSU, he was the driving force in designing/implementing UTEC (a university-wide Teacher Education Committee), the Bureau of Educational Research, The Research Center on Adult Learning and Center for Community Education. On sabbatical in 1987-88, he served as Research Associate for the Education Commission of the States in Denver, CO. Upon his return to MSU, he taught education policy analysis, public school and higher education administration courses. Retiring in 1996, he was named Professor and Dean Emeritus. John continued his public education advocacy after retiring to AZ where he analyzed and spoke out on behalf of public educ. John has an extensive publication and research record, presented many educational papers at state/national education conferences, and served as President of the National Council of Professors of Educational Administration.

John married Marybelle Jones in 1950, they had four children and were later divorced. He married Joye Brown in 1969 with whom he had two children.

Active in the community, he served as a member of the long-range planning committee of the Bozeman Public Schools, Chair of the Bozeman United Methodist Church board, a member of the Bozeman Barracudas U.S. Swim Club executive committee, and officiated at many U.S.S. and High School swim meets.

Although he has many professional and community credits and honors to his name, it is the essence of the man, his integrity, his commitment to family and community, and his sense of humor which will be long remembered. He was fun-loving, an avid reader, loved to travel, enjoyed music (especially Dixieland and Blue Grass), fishing, hunting and golfing, was a Civil War buff and loved story-telling and jokes. Though the last 18 months of his life were difficult, John remained engaged in life and retained his upbeat attitude and his sense of humor. John truly made a difference in so many lives and in his profession.

He was preceded in death by his parents, his daughter, Kerith Kohl Fujimoto; and sisters, Bernice and Marjorie. John’s immediate surviving family include Joye, his wife of nearly 52 years; daughters, Mary Kathleen Nicosia of Surprise, AZ; Kristin Kohl of Portland, OR and Johnna Kohl (Mike Wirschem) of Anchorage, AK; and sons, John Kevin Kohl of Surprise, AZ; and Jim Kohl (Anna) of Anchorage, AK. He is survived by nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

A celebration of life will be planned later in AZ and in Cooke City, MT during summer 2022, in Cooke City, MT where he and his wife have spent many summers. In lieu of flowers, donations are suggested to the John W. Kohl Educational Leadership Endowment at the Montana State University Alumni Foundation, the Kerdragon Scholarship Endowment at the Oregon Student Access and Completion Office (3225 25th Street SE, Salem, OR 97302) or Hospice of the Valley.