Obituary

Robert Charles Kohler III

Fayetteville, AR

1957 - 2017

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Published: December 12, 2017

Robert Charles Kohler III, AIA, age 60, died on November 28, 2017, at Willard Walker Hospice House in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2005, Bob ferociously fought the disease alongside brilliant researchers, doctors and nurses as well as dedicated family and friends. Through 12 years of treatment, he weathered a remarkable five stem cell transplantations at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock.

Born in Dallas, Texas, Bob attended Saint Marks School, Dallas; graduated from Episcopal High School, Alexandria, Virginia; earned a Bachelor of Architecture at Tulane University, New Orleans; and a Master of Business Administration at Southern Methodist University, Dallas.

As a boy, Bob spent his summers at the Brook Hollow Golf Club and the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club where his parents met. For many summers, Bob was the assistant tennis pro at the Dallas Country Club where he developed a lifelong love of the game and a wicked cross-court backhand. Passionate about racquet sports, all Bob needed to create a game was the semblance of a ball and paddle and a relatively flat open space where he would mark off a court and invent rules that often included bonus points for a clean head shot.

Bob first expressed his entrepreneurial spirit as half of a two-boy troupe known as The Great Fitzwillies performing magic shows at children's parties and later as the creator of City Golf in Dallas's West End District, the Southwest's first indoor miniature golf course. From there he founded Kohler Golf Design and completed golf projects in eleven cities including Dallas, New York, Washington, DC, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Phoenix, Raleigh and Little Rock. When not working, Bob motored around Dallas in his classic VW bus with his laidback basset hound, Woodrow.

Bob's architectural career began in Dallas at Beran & Shelmire Architects where he worked on iconic buildings including the San Jacinto Tower and the Anatole Hotel and later with Trammell Crow Design where he contributed to the design development of hotel properties in Dallas, Denver, Minneapolis, Houston, Durham and Pittsburgh. During this time Bob was a member of both Idlewild and Terpsichorean, men's social clubs, where he developed many lifelong friendships.

Bob left Dallas in 2000 to make Fayetteville, Arkansas his home. He embraced his new community through volunteer work, first with the Delta Society with his beloved basset hound and therapy dog Otis, then on the City of Fayetteville's Board of Adjustments and later on The New School Board of Trustees where he served on the Building and Grounds Committee. His was a key voice on the Campus Master Planning Committee that informed the construction of the Academic, Innovation and Athletic Centers.

Bob was energized by his engagements with the world of architecture at all levels, both educational and professional. He was a member of the Northwest section of the Arkansas chapter of the American Institute of Architects serving as an officer and Chair. For many years he taught the Professional Practice course at University of Arkansas' Fay Jones School of Architecture + Design, where he introduced a case study approach connecting students with professionals in the field. He played a role in Hurricane Katrina remediation with architecture faculty and students in the several months after the storm. Bob loved working with students, and kept in touch with many after his work with the School ended.

Bob was a founding Board member of TheatreSquared, Northwest Arkansas' only year-round professional theater, and was intimately involved in the planning for the design and construction of an architecturally significant building designed by Marvel Architects now in progress in the entertainment district in Fayetteville.

Bob served as the Owner's Representative for noteworthy buildings in Northwest Arkansas including the Blair Library building of the Fayetteville Public Library and the Scott Family Amazeum, Bentonville. He was part of the project team of the Thaden School and the Helen R. Walton Children's Enrichment Center also in Bentonville. Bob sought to ease the pain of fellow patients through his involvement with Cromwell Architects on the design of the Myeloma Institute on the eighth floor of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock.

On the go until days before his death, Bob took on life for all it was worth. His family thanks the staff of the UAMS Myeloma Institute, Highlands Oncology and Mount Sinai for their able and patient treatment of perhaps their most headstrong patient and to the myeloma patients Bob met along the way, many of whom remained friends until the end.

Bob is survived by his wife, Laura Goodwin and son, Owen Goodwin Kohler of Fayetteville; by his mother, Diane (Burgher) Enholm of Dallas; and sisters, Robin Stieber of Colorado Springs, Joan McGraw of Dallas, their families and many friends. He was preceded in death by his father, Robert Charles Kohler Jr. of Carmel, California.

We will remember Bob for his love of the arts, his passion for the built environment, for his youthful enthusiasm and appealing sense of wonder. Dear to many, his presence in Northwest Arkansas will be felt for years to come, through the architectural projects to which he contributed and the relationships he nurtured. A memorial service is planned in Starr Theater at Walton Arts Center on Saturday, January 13, 2018 at 2 p.m. Bob was passionate about his work for TheatreSquared and could barely contain his excitement about its permanent home. Gifts in his memory can be made to TheatreSquared Our Next Stage campaign at theatresquared.org.

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