Ottomar Kohls departed his physical life with us to continue his journey on November 13, 2018. Otto was born in Chinow, Mazowieckie Poland to Wilhelm and Anna (Schiewe) Kohls on October 12, 1929. Due to World War II, he, his parents, and his siblings Ida, Walter, and Elli were forced to emigrate west to what is now Germany. The family settled in Lelm where his parents farmed and made the best of a bad time. In addition to the hard work that needed to be done, Otto understood the importance of education. After primary school, he attended the Gymnasium (Advanced High School) in Helmstedt. He received his teacher’s license at the Teachers’ College in Braunschweig. One of the requirements was to be able to play two instruments, so he taught himself to play the guitar and the piano. Otto loved music. He sang in choirs and anytime he was working or puttering around.
In 1955, Otto immigrated to the United States. He was picked up at the airport in Milwaukee by his cousins Oscar and Eddie Kohls from Gillett, WI, and he tasted his first US beer on the way home. He lived with Oscar and his wife Elaine and their family on their farm where he helped with the work.
Otto moved to Green Bay a few years later and worked at Nicolet Paper Mill in De Pere. He lived in a boarding house on Broadway Street. There was a pretty young lady living nearby whose name was Claudia (Toddy) Putnam. Because he had an excellent eye for the finest things, he courted her and she became the love of his life. They married on May 2, 1959. Otto became a US citizen on April 10, 1961.
He left the paper mill to work as a siding and roofing contractor for Barbeau Manufacturing. During that phase of his occupational career, he hired his brother-in-law Porky, Toddy’s cousin Danny, and her uncle Buppy. Many great stories came out of that relationship.
Otto always longed to get back to farming. In 1971, he and Toddy purchased a farm near Navarino, WI. The venture started with raising beef cattle and crops while he still worked in the siding business. He and Toddy eventually went into full-time dairy farming. In 1983, they decided to retire from dairy farming and Otto returned to the siding application with his son Tom.
Otto “retired” in 1993. However, he never stopped working. He loved his garden, his apple trees, and his raspberry patches and it brought great joy to him when anyone enjoyed the fruits of his labor. Otto never met a berry he didn’t like. He spent many hours weeding and trapping Japanese beetles. A week before he died, he was up on a ladder cleaning out the roof gutters. He was not happy unless he was active.
He was a member of Hope Lutheran Church in De Pere, then Ascension Lutheran Church in Navarino, and finally Peace Lutheran Church in Kunesh.
Otto was so proud of his family and wanted only the best for them. At the time of his death he was survived by his wife of 59 years, Claudia (Toddy), sons David (Gwen), Michael (Kerri), brother Walter, sister Elli (Joachim), sister-in-law Sharon Putnam, granddaughters Kristi (John) Gardon, Mindy Kohls, and Danielle Kohls, beloved nieces, nephews, and cousins.
He was preceded in death by his son Thomas, his parents, sister Ida, and brothers-in-law Porky (Earl) Putnam and Willi Ricker.
A celebration of life for Otto and Toddy will be held at Peace Lutheran Church (1954 County Rd U, Green Bay, WI 54313) on Saturday, March 30, 2019, at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, your thoughts and prayers will mean the most to us. The family will receive family and friends from 9 a.m. until the time of the service. Muehl-Boettcher Funeral Home, Seymour has been entrusted with arrangements. To leave an online condolence for the family, please visit https://www.muehlboettcher.com/