Herb Kohler, longtime CEO of Kohler Co. and owner of Whistling Straits, dies at 83

Herb Kohler, longtime CEO of Kohler Co. and owner of Whistling Straits, dies at 83
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Herbert Kohler Jr., CEO of Kohler Company for 43 years and owner of Whistling Straits, died Saturday, according to a news release from the company. He was 83.

“His zest for life, adventure and impact inspires all of us,” his family said in a news release. “We traveled together, celebrated together and worked together. He was all in, all the time, leaving an indelible mark on how we live our lives today and carry on his legacy.”

Kohler was born Feb. 20, 1939, to Herbert Kohler Sr. and Ruth Myriam DeYoung. He was the oldest of three children. He had a sister, Ruth DeYoung Kohler II, and brother, Frederick Cornell Kohler, both of whom preceded him in death.

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Shortly after graduating from Yale in 1965, Herb Kohler joined Kohler Co., full-time as a research and development technician.

He became a director of the company in 1967, and following the death of his father a year later, he became vice president of operations. He was named executive vice president in 1971, was elected chairman of the board and CEO in 1972 and president of the company in 1974.

In 2015, he became the company’s executive chairman, with his son, David, taking the helm as president and CEO. He served Kohler Co. for 61 years.

Kohler made his mark on golf in Wisconsin, opening famous courses Blackwolf Run and Whistling Straits.

Blackwolf Run opened in 1988 and was the first piece of Destination Kohler’s golf portfolio, followed by Whistling Straits 10 years later.

Those two venues are home to four top courses — Whistling Straits Straits Course, Whistling Straits Irish, Blackwolf Run Meadow Valley and Blackwolf Run River.

The Kohler courses have hosted six major championships and welcomed the game’s best for the 2021 Ryder Cup, which saw the American squad win in dominating fashion.

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