Terry Kohler, a dedicated supporter of Lakeland University whose impact was felt across a wide range of his professional and personal interests, died Tuesday. He was 82.
In May of 2001, The Charlotte and Walter Kohler Charitable Trust gave $1.5 million to the Lakeland's endowment fund, which at that time was the largest single gift in the institution's history. The Trust is named for Terry's parents, former Wisconsin Governor Walter Kohler Jr. and his wife, Charlotte.
The gift funded Lakeland's Charlotte and Walter Kohler Charitable Trust Professor of Business and Economics, a position held by Scott Niederjohn, dean of the School of Business and Entrepreneurship, since its creation. The gift also established the Charlotte and Walter Kohler Distinguished Business Lecture Series.
"Terry Kohler will be remembered as one of the true giants of this community," said Niederjohn, who got to know the Kohlers through his position and his work managing the Kohler Lecture Series. "He made his mark on state and national politics, the business community, the sailing industry and through his philanthropic and conservationist efforts.
"He always had a soft spot for Lakeland. He and Mary are certainly among the most significant supporters the institution has known over its long history. He helped Lakeland secure internationally known speakers while also supporting many other programs to enhance the experience for Lakeland students.
"Lakeland will miss Terry. I'm proud to continue to serve Lakeland in this position named for the trust, and the institution is so grateful for his many years of support."
A 32-station computer lab in the Harold G. Laun Center for Business and Technology is also named as a result of a gift from The Charlotte and Walter Kohler Charitable Trust. Terry Kohler also financially supported student scholarships and experiences and Lakeland's aviation program.
Terry Kohler served as Lakeland's first Businessman in Residence in the late 1970s, launching a program that invited high-level executives to campus to lead sessions with students and offer them real-world lessons and networking opportunities.
At the time of the Trust's gift in 2001, Terry Kohler said, "As the first Businessman in Residence at Lakeland, I remember clearly the student commitment to learning about the economic world. The private enterprise system held an allure for them in that academic environment that was very edifying to me. Lakeland demonstrated its ability to interest and educate its students in the ways of the marketplace."
This past spring, the Kohler Business Lecture celebrated its 15th talk. Series speakers have included some of Terry's personal contacts, including former U.S. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and noted publisher and former presidential candidate Steve Forbes.