Robert ‘Bob’ Paul Koehs, Jr.
MARQUETTE, MI – Our Dad, Grandpa, Husband and Friend, Robert (Bob) Paul Koehs, Jr. entered into eternal life on 19 February 2013. He passed peacefully holding the hands of his family at our home in Marquette.
Bob was a lover of life and the people he shared it with. He was born 19 January 1947 in Wilkes- Barre, Pennsylvania. His father served in the military and together with his mother gave Bob the opportunity to experience life in different countries during his childhood, including Japan, Germany and the United States. He is the eldest of seven children and was a very loving brother and caregiver of his younger siblings during the difficult time after their mother passed when he was 12.
After graduating from high school, Bob joined the military and served on the navy ships during the Vietnam War. When he left the navy, he moved to Marquette to attend Northern Michigan University where he received his B.A. He later continued his education at Michigan State University, where he earned a M.A. He also received Ed Specialist degree and always considered himself a “life-long learner”.
Bob had a long career as a talented educator with a passion for teaching both young people and other teachers. His first teaching job was at the “New School” and shortly after he became one of the owners of the Lake Superior Children Center Montessori School. Most of his life’s work was spent working at MARESA, where he taught teachers, supported the advancement of girls in math and science, and participated in ensuring innovation and the best teaching practices reached the Marquette- Alger County Schools. He later became the Principal of Autrain Schools and then superintendent of Powell Township schools. At the end of his career, he returned to teaching young people at the Great Lakes Recovery Centers. He truly enjoyed working with these youth as both their teacher and friend who could be there for them as they faced and worked to overcome some of the most trying challenges of their lives.
Having had major challenges in childhood, mainly due to the passing of his mother and frequent moves with his military family, Bob treasured parenthood and family life as an adult. He was an amazing father and grandfather and he and Jan Perrault truly enjoyed parenting together. They were constantly involved in every aspect of raising their children and always had time for them and their beautiful granddaughters. Bob spent countless hours with Jess, Chris, Sahyra and Khanyisa – educating them, reading to them, caring for them when they were sick, sharing his love for Tiger baseball, dance and song, and, of course, taking them for adventures throughout the United States and the world.
Bob and Sue fell in love and were married on 8 November 2008. Bob fell ill shortly after and had a double lung transplant at Mayo Clinic. They spent their first anniversary at the Gift of Life Transplant House in Rochester MN under the wonderful care of the Mayo Clinic Transplant Center. It is there that they met many new lifelong friends.
Although Bob and Sue only had a few short years together, they took every opportunity to live and love life to the fullest. Sue made Bob the “happiest man in the world” and it was her love that sustained him through some of his most difficult as well as some of his most wonderful moments. Despite his illness, they enjoyed life together immensely and had many exciting adventures by land and by sea.
Bob was a renaissance man who loved travelling, learning history, appreciating art and loving as much of life as he could. He believed in living life to the fullest and loved people that were in his life, no matter how short or how different they may be. He believed in the power of ideas and taking the necessary action to make the world better than he found it. He enjoyed challenging the status quo and always believed in humanity’s ability to do better. He became a teacher, not to get a job, but to contribute, give his passion, and to challenge conventional outdated practices. He made learning exciting, real and an amazing experience for the students he taught and the teachers who taught them. He taught teachers to believe in their ability to transform the lives of children and in the tremendous role they played in shaping these young personalities. He would fight for the voiceless and believed in the equality of education. Ensuring math and science was promoted to girls was a great passion of his. One of his last big smiles was when he heard his granddaughter Sahyra tell him “math and science are my favorite subjects and I still want to be a surgeon & veterinarian.”
In his son Chris’ words, “he was my Dad, my mentor, my friend, and my inspiration. He taught me the great gift of life comes from the joy you receive from helping others, especially those who need it the most. He will be missed here but I know his teaching and compassion will stay with my family and so many more he has touched. Love you Dad.”
He is survived his wife Susan Koehs, daughter Jessica Koehs, son Christopher Koehs and granddaughters Sahyra Benson-Koehs and Khanyisa Mfeka-Koehs; his brother Mike Koehs and wife Cheryl and their children; sister Marcy Romps and her husband Tom and their children; brother Ed Koehs and wife Brenda and their children; sister Connie Longsworth and her husband Jerry and their children; and sister Kim Allison and her husband Jim and their children; his stepmother Jean Donley Koehs; his loving cousins Rhonda, Donna and Vicky and their families; His “Donor Angel” Chelsea’s family who allowed him to have 3 more wonderful years with the lung transplant including her parents, Terri and Byron Nielson; her sister, Janaya Nielson and her aunts, Kerri and Mary; and his caregiver, lifelong friend, and the person he considered to also be his daughter, Belle Matheson, who cared for him and supported the family during his last days. His father, Robert Paul Koehs Sr., mother Elaine Mick Koehs and brother James Koehs are now joined with him in eternal life.
Services will be held at Canale Tonella Funeral Home located at 526 N. Third Street in Marquette, Michigan. All who knew and loved Bob are welcome to attend. The visitation will be held on Saturday, February 23, 2013 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. with the funeral service Saturday, February 23, 2013, at 3:00 p.m., with the Rev. Leon Jarvis officiating.
For those who would like to make contributions in memory of Bob, his family would appreciate your support for the Gift of Life Transplant House, 705 Second Street SW Rochester, MN 55902; Telephone: 507-288-7470 (or donate online at: www.gift-of-life.org/forms/donations.php)
Memories may be shared at: www.canalefuneral.com.