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Taps: Fred J. Koehnen

February 7, 2017

Hawaii Army National Guard warrior logoFred J. Koehnen, 92, of Hilo, Hawaii, died on Wednesday, February 01, 2017. He was born in Hilo on February 24, 1924.

Private Services to be held at a later date.

Thanks to Steve Lum for the following is a news article about Fred Koehnen written in 2015 when he published his memoir book.

Hilo, Hawaii—September 16, 2015—Fred J. Koehnen, Hawaii Island-born community and business leader, has had more than 90 years of action-packed experiences—but his unerring compass has always returned him to Hilo.

Koehnen’s just-published memoir, Been There Done That Back to Hilo, tells the story of his nine-decade odyssey. He’s hunted, fished, ridden, wrangled cattle, hiked, golfed and swum in every quarter of Hawai‘i Island.  In business, government and community service, he has diligently done what was needed, leaving a lasting mark.

Koehnen, 91, will be honored at a dinner sponsored by the Lyman Museum Sunday, Sept. 27 at Nani Mau Gardens.  A long-time member of the museum board, he is donating the proceeds from his memoir to the museum.

“Lyman Museum is a great repository of history, particularly of Hawaii Island, so it’s fitting that Fred’s book becomes part of the museum’s legacy,” said Richard Henderson, chairman of the Lyman board.

Tucked in the pages are historical tales and images of Hawaii Island from before World War II through statehood, the rise and fall of King Sugar, and the transformation of East Hawaii in response to devastating tsunamis.

As a boy, this son of German immigrants to Hilo saw glory and disgrace in the 1936 Olympics and Hitler’s pre-war Germany. He awoke at the University of Hawaii-Manoa on December 7, 1941 to Pearl Harbor’s bombing. Active in two wars—World War II and Vietnam—he was in active or reserve service for 32 years.  He’s traveled the world, read the important books and does complicated accounting in his head.

Many recognize the Koehnen name from F. Koehnen, Ltd., and the landmark Koehnen’s Building which housed a furniture and gifts store for decades.  The store was begun by Fred’s father, Friederich Koehnen, who came to Hilo in 1909 as an apprentice of sorts to the Hackfeld and Company trading firm.  Fred was born in 1924.

“We’re very pleased to be able to honor Fred and his contributions, both to our community and to the country,” said Barbara Moir, president and executive director of Lyman Museum.  “He’s been instrumental in building the museum’s base.  And as you’ll discover in his memoir, he’s also a heck of a writer!”

From → History

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