Foy D. Kohler

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Foy D. Kohler
United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union
In office
President John F. Kennedy
Preceded by Llewellyn Thompson
Succeeded by Llewellyn Thompson
Personal details
Born February 15, 1908
Oakwood, Ohio
Died December 23, 1990
Jupiter, Florida
Spouse(s) Phyllis Penn

Foy David Kohler (February 15, 1908 – December 23, 1990) was an American diplomat and career Foreign Service Officer who was Ambassador to the Soviet Union during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Early life[edit]

Kohler was born in Oakwood, Ohio but the family moved to Toledo when he was young. He attended the University of Toledo and Ohio State University, where he graduated in 1931 with a BS in foreign studies.[1]

He entered the Foreign Service and served in Windsor (Canada), Belgrade (Yugoslavia), and Bucharest (Romania). He married Phyllis Penn of Greensboro, North Carolina in Bucharest in 1935.[1] Later they served in Athens (Greece), Cairo (Egypt), Vietnam, and Bolivia.[2]

Kohler studied Russian at Cornell University in 1946 and then had his first tour in Moscow from 1947-49 working for Ambassador Walter Bedell Smith.[1]

Ambassador to the Soviet Union[edit]

Following a tour as Director of Voice of America, in September 1962 President John F. Kennedy named Kohler Ambassador to the Soviet Union. He and his wife moved to Spaso House, the U.S. Ambassador’s residence in Moscow, and began a complete remodeling of the mansion.[1]

In just a few weeks the Cuban Missile Crisis began and Kohler found himself engaged in defusing a serious international crisis. The Americans had found that the Soviets were placing nuclear missiles in Cuba. After two weeks of tension over the risk of escalation, Nikita Khrushchev agreed to remove the missiles.

The experience convinced both sides of the need for better communications. On June 20, 1963, the two countries agreed to set up a continuous connection over a secure transatlantic cable, as a "hot line" for use in times of emergency. [3]

On August 5, 1963, the Limited Test Ban Treaty, which banned nuclear testing in the atmosphere, under water, or outer space, was signed in Moscow.[4] This was to be the first in a series of arms control agreements between the superpowers.

On March 6, 1967, Kohler received word that Svetlana Alliluyeva, the daughter of former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had decided to defect to the U.S. in New Delhi. He had the responsibility to inform the Soviets via their Ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Dobrynin.[1]

Kohler retired from the foreign service in 1967 with the personal rank of Career Ambassador.

After government service[edit]

The Kohlers moved to Florida and he became a professor of International Studies at the Center for Advanced International Studies of the University of Miami.

He died December 23, 1990. He and Phyllis never had children. He was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Beta Gamma Sigma, Delta Upsilon, and Phi Beta Kappa.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Kohart, Georgia, Foy David Kohler Obituary Defiance Ohio Crescent-News January 28, 2001
  2. ^ U.S. Ministers and Ambassadors to Russia, American Embassy, Moscow
  3. ^ Hot Line Agreement (1963)
  4. ^ Limited Test Ban Treaty (1963)
Government offices
Preceded by
Livingston T. Merchant
Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs
December 11, 1959 – August 19, 1962
Succeeded by
William R. Tyler