Duane Harold Koehler, 72, passed away peacefully on May 17, 2023, with his family by his side, after a courageous 4-year battle with cancer.
Duane was the oldest son of Harold and Elaine (Tews) Koehler. He graduated from Winona Senior High School, class of 1968, and attended Winona State University. He enjoyed all sports and was exceptional in wrestling and went to State. He served in the US Navy in San Diego, active duty from 1971 to 1972. When he returned home, he joined and served in the Naval Reserves from 1972 to 1976 and then in the National Guard from 1976 to 1980. He loved his country and stood for life, liberty, love, and freedom!
Duane married Vicki Skroch in 1971, and they had two children, Corey and Stacey. Duane and Vicki later divorced. In 1985, he married Pamela (Penny) Aeling, and they had two children, Heather and Troy.
After Duane returned from the military, he worked at the family business, Koehler Auto Body, which at the time was one of the largest body, mechanic, and parts businesses in Winona. He enjoyed working with many members of his family. He loved his siblings dearly. He later branched off on his own at Duane's Auto Center, until 2009. He then worked part time at Riverway Learning Center, Winona County Historical Society, and WinCraft.
Duane loved music, played guitar, and was a good singer. He passed that torch to his oldest son, Corey, who is a singer-songwriter and attributes his introduction to music to his dad. Duane's mechanical abilities were amazing, and he gave those gifts to his son Troy, who has those abilities in his list of his gifts. Duane's girls were daddy's girls all the way. He was always protective of them. He dearly loved his daughters-in-law, Carissa and Samantha, and his son-in-law, Andrew. Duane was an excellent dancer and would swing Penny around the dance floor, almost losing her into the crowd if she missed his hand (which actually happened once). He loved and cherished her, as well as his children and grandchildren. He is so very proud of the productive, loving people they all have become.
The best moments in life for Duane were when he had all his creation together, laughing and sharing the good life. He loved sitting on the deck with some old country music playing and watching the nature in the backyard. He was a man of pride and loved deeply. He was also known by his silly sayings, like "Shake the hand that shook the world" and "If I had a quarter, I'd have someone else's pants on." He loved anything Minnesota sports, especially the Twins, Vikings, and Gophers. He was also a big fan of NASCAR and attended several races.
We are grateful as a family to have had some special time with him as he transitioned into Heaven.
Duane is survived by his wife, Penny; children, Corey (Carissa) Koehler, Stacey Koehler, Heather (Andrew) Grigg, and Troy (Samantha) Koehler; grandchildren, Mitchell, Maya, and Maggie Koehler, Kamerin Koehler, Driana Smith, Cashten and Jade Koehler, Max and baby boy Grigg (who will take Papa's name as his middle name); siblings Steve (Mary) Koehler, Cindy (Jay) Bade, and Bruce (Kathy) Koehler; brothers-in-law, Tom Aeling, Mark (Bonnie) Aeling, Michael (Deb) Aeling, and Gene Rackow; sister-in-law Susie Koehler; many nieces and nephews; and his pup, Boe.
He was preceded in death by his parents; siblings Sandy Rackow, Lynette Koehler, and Dwight Koehler; sister-in-law Cheryl Aeling; father-in-law, Donald Aeling; and mother in-law, Clare Aeling.
He will be missed. Fly high and watch over us! Until we meet again! We love you!
We'd like to thank Dr. Oettel and the oncology team and nursing staff at Gundersen Lutheran and Winona Hospice, especially Duane's nurses Laura and Heather, and our social worker, Jodi for their kind care of Duane and our family. A special thank you to his daughter-in-law, Samantha Koehler, our family nurse, for her love and devotion. We would also like to thank Pastor Schroeder and Pastor Turner for their spiritual guidance during Duane's illness.
Services will be 11 a.m., Tuesday, May 23, 2023 at St. Matthews Lutheran Church, with a visitation beginning at 9 a.m. He will be laid to rest at St. Mary's Cemetery with Military Honors provided by the American Legion. A luncheon will follow at the American Legion.
Hoff Celebration of Life Center is assisting the family with arrangements. Online condolences can be made at www.hoffffuneral.com.