Honorary President of F.I.S.A. died at the age of 95
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Posted 2016-12-30 21:33:05
OBITUARY: ROLAND FELIX KOHL (March 3, 1921 - July 11, 2016)
Roland Felix Kohl was born in Dresden, Germany on March 3, 1921 of a Swiss mother and German father. He completed his basic education in 1939. Always interested in aviation, airplanes and dirigibles, he wanted to become an aeronautical engineer. When he started to collect stamps as a youth he reflected his penchant for aviation by seeking stamps related to that field. His ambitions took a change in 1941 when he was drafted into the German Army. Trained as a telegrapher, he was serving in that capacity when his unit was transferred to the Russian front and was wounded during fighting around Latvia, evacuated back to Germany, treated and recovered. While convalescing in Dresden he survived the February 13, 1945 horrific bombing that virtually destroyed that city. With his mother, he escaped to Leipzig where his sister, Yvonne, lived. However, she had moved to the outskirts of Nuremberg and so Roland and his mother found transportation there. Reunited, they awaited the arrival of the U.S. Army which they joyfully welcomed. When he sought to continue his education, there were no classes for Aeronautical Engineering and he enrolled in the Civil Engineering program. Upon graduation in 1952, he got a job as an engineer working for the U.S. Airforce rebuilding damaged/destroyed airports.
An old friend who had emigrated to New York before the war returned to Germany on business and tracked Roland down. He convinced Roland to come to America. Aided by his aunt and family who lived in New York, he found a place to live and got a job working for Amman and Whitney the famous bridge builders. With a team of other engineers, he designed the huge cable anchorage for the Brooklyn side of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.
Roland met a lovely Swedish girl, Kerstin, in New York, fell in love, and married her in January 1958. They lived happily in the city, both became U.S. citizens. In 1962 they decided to return to Europe and Roland quickly found jobs working for American engineering firms rebuilding industrial plants and refineries in Germany. In 1970 he was offered a job as Chief Engineer for the Zurich International Airport. He and Kerstin were delighted to move to Switzerland. Unfortunately, Kerstin’s health deteriorated and eventually she died of cancer in May 1995.
All through the years after the end of World War II, Roland enlarged and maintained his philatelic collection and became active in several philatelic organizations. While at an International Philatelic Exhibition in Thailand, he fell in love with the country and after Kerstin’s death purchased a 12th floor condominium on the beach in Patong, Phuket. He was there on December 26, 2004 when the historic tsunami hit. Fortunately he was located in a sturdy 30 story building and was an observer of all the chaos that ensued.
Eventually, he developed glaucoma and macular degeneration and hearing loss. Unable to get good health care he decided in 2011 to return to the United States and live with his first cousin, André and his wife Sally in Delaware. Succumbing to various ailments, he passed away peacefully on July 11. 2016. He was 95 years old.