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Rural Perham murder: Pipe wrench reportedly used in brutal killing of mother, son

Walter Koehler 1924-2012

Walter Koehler was born on Sept. 10, 1924 in Pine Lake Township, rural New York Mills, to William and Anna (Kellermann) Koehler. He was baptized on Oct. 29, 1924 in Pine Lake Township, Otter Tail County and was confirmed on Nov. 15, 1942 at St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Perham. He attended Country School at District #238 in Homestead Township.

Walter served in the United States Merchant Marines from February 1955 through December 1958. On April 12, 1959 Walter was united in marriage with Maria Doess at Trinity Lutheran Church in New York Mills. Their marriage was blessed with two daughters, Barbara and Annamarie. Walter and Maria have farmed and made their home in Deer Creek Township for 53 years. Walter loved hunting, fishing, reading, was a skillful mechanic and an active member of the National Farmers Organization (NFO). He was a longtime friend of Bill W. Walter also enjoyed driving around the countryside and visiting with his friends, particularly at the Bake Shoppe. Walter and Maria made several trips to Germany, visiting family and friends. Walter even enjoyed downhill skiing in Germany.

On Dec. 27, 2012, Walter passed away at his home, surrounded by his family and the care of Lakeland Hospice at age 88. He will be dearly missed by his family and friends.

Preceding Walter in death were his parents; sister, Margit Hammer and her husband Clemence; brother, LeRoy Koehler; his first wife, Carol; and sister-in-law, Guyla Koehler.

Walter is survived by his wife, Maria Koehler of Deer Creek, Minn.; two daughters, Barbara Koehler of San Rafael, Calif. and Annamarie (Nathan) Tabery of Wadena, Minn.; three grandchildren, Chelsea, Christina and Joshua; three great-grandchildren, Elijah, Cecilia and Jericho; brother, Leo Koehler of New York Mills; sister-in-law, Arliss Koehler of Fargo, N.D.; many nieces, nephews, other relatives and a host of friends.

Memorial services were held on Dec. 31, 2012 at Trinity Lutheran Church in New York Mills with Pastor Gunnard Heikila officiating. The hymns were sung by the congregation and accompanied by Cindy Becker. Honorary pallbearers were Bruce Schlupp, Guy Blaske, Ross Ojala, Roger Hammer, Ron Olson, Bruce Boyne, Bob Hietala and Kim Ohragge. Interment will be in Woodland Cemetery, New York Mills. Arrangements were provided by the Karvonen & Son Funeral Home of New York Mills. Tributes may be posted online at