Carl and Mary Koehler’s names are familiar to many in this community thanks to the generous contributions they made to support various organizations during their lifetimes and beyond.
Both Carl and Mary grew up in Washington County, Iowa and spent many of their adult years in California where they invested in real estate. As they grew closer to retirement, they found their way back to Eastern Iowa and settled in Cedar Rapids in 1988.
Not long after moving to Cedar Rapids, the Koehler’s began charitably supporting various organizations they cared about, including St. Luke’s Hospital, the American Cancer Society, Meth-Wick Retirement Center and The History Center. The History Center bears the couple’s name to this day, in honor of their significant financial contributions to the organization.
Mark Stoffer-Hunter, Research Historian at The History Center, remembers fondly his time spent with Mary Koehler in particular. “She loved history. It really captured her imagination and she felt it was very worthy of their support,” he said. “They felt that cultural institutions and the arts deserved as much support as hospitals and social service organizations, because when all these groups are supported the community is balanced,” said Stoffer-Hunter. “They were very passionate people who believed in community betterment and contributed generously.”
And to this day the community continues to benefit from the Koehler’s legacy. Before their deaths – Carl in 1996 and Mary in 2007 – the couple made plans to disburse their estate gift in a visionary way. They wanted to leave gifts to those organizations they cared about in their lifetimes, but they also wanted to give a gift to help the future of the community they had adopted and grown to love.
Twenty percent of the Koehler’s estate was designated for the Funds for the Community at the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation. Today, this estate gift distributes approximately
$30,000 annually to nonprofits with the greatest community needs and opportunities through the Community Foundation’s competitive grant process.
Carl and Mary Koehler’s generous estate gift will continue to grow and give to the community, forever.