For family and friends who knew him, William "Bill" Koehler was a hard-working man known for his community service and love for his family.
The longtime Hewlett resident Koehler died on May 6 from natural causes in upstate Hudson. He was 93.
Born January 28, 1927 in Far Rockaway, Koehler subsequently came to live with his aunt, Louise Koehler, in Hewlett, when he was 10, as his father could no longer care for him and his mother died when he was a baby. Koehler lived in Hewlett for the majority of his life.
Louise and Koehler would co-own Bergman’s Florist on Broadway in Hewlett next to Hewlett Elementary School until the business closed in 1970. He also served in the U.S. Naval Air Corp in 1946 and ‘47 in Corpus Christi, Texas.
He and his wife, Mary Ann Watts Koehler, from Inwood, married in 1950. They lived on Broadway in Hewlett in a house that he and his uncle, Thomas Minnigan, built in 1957.
Koehler worked as a carpenter for the Hewlett-Woodmere School District for 22 years beginning in 1971, and then as a pallbearer for Hempstead-based Reisert’s Limousine Service for 15 years before retiring in 2008.
Involved in his community as he was with work, Koehler was a member of the Hewlett Fire Department for 68 years. He served as chief between 1982 and 1990 and fire district commissioner between 1990 and 1995. He also served as a delegate to the Nassau County Fire Fighters Burn Center for roughly 10 years for the county’s Third Battalion.
One of Koehler’s children, Kerry, noted the importance of the fire department to her father. “My dad loved and adored his fellow members more than he probably ever expressed,” Kerry said. “Hewlett Fire Department was a huge part of his life and it helped define who he was.”
His interests ranged from car racing, boating and carpentry along with watching sports and spending time with his family. Koehler’s daughter, Kim Fera, remembers taking in these interests alongside her father. “From car races in Islip to fishing on a boat to building furniture, I was his sidekick,” Fera said. “I was his shadow and I loved it.”
Predeceased by his wife of 68 years, Mary Ann Watts in 2018. Koehler is survived by his three children Kathy Lapp and her husband Al, Kerry Koehler, Kim Fera and her husband Lance. Four grandchildren, Lindsay Fera Schultz and her husband David, Ashley Lapp, Kyle Fera and his wife Emily. He is also survived by four great-grandchildren, Cason Schultz, Kensley Schultz, Reagan and Hadley Fera.
A memorial service will be scheduled at a later date. Donations in Koehler’s memory may be sent to the Firemen's Association of the State of New York Firemen’s Home, Operation Small Change, 125 Harry Howard Ave., Hudson, N.Y. 12534.