Jump to content

Foy D. Kohler

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Foy D. Kohler
11th United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union
In office
September 27, 1962 – November 14, 1966
PresidentJohn F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
Preceded byLlewellyn Thompson
Succeeded byLlewellyn Thompson
5th Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs
In office
December 11, 1959 – August 19, 1962
PresidentDwight D. Eisenhower
John F. Kennedy
Preceded byLivingston T. Merchant
Succeeded byWilliam R. Tyler
Personal details
Born(1908-02-15)February 15, 1908
Oakwood, Ohio
DiedDecember 23, 1990(1990-12-23) (aged 82)
Jupiter, Florida
SpousePhyllis Penn

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

Early life


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]

At the end of World War II, Kohler served as the assistant chief of the Foreign Service's Division of Near Eastern Affairs.[3]

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


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. Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev was not well acquainted with Kohler, and what little Khrushchev did know about him he disliked. As a result, there was little that Kohler could have done to influence Khrushchev one way or another. Even so, Kohler proved useful by efficiently transmitting important messages between the White House and the Kremlin.[3] After two weeks of tension over the risk of escalation, 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.[4][5]

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.[6] 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


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]




  • "The Effectiveness of the Voice of America." Quarterly of Film Radio and Television, vol. 6, no. 1 (Autumn 1951), pp. 20–29. JSTOR 1209931. doi:10.2307/1209931.
  • "The International Significance of the Lunar Landing," with Dodd L. Harvey. Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs, vol. 12, no. 1 (Jan. 1970), pp. 3–30. JSTOR 174840. doi:10.2307/174840.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Kohart, Georgia, Foy David Kohler Obituary Archived 2012-02-08 at the Wayback Machine Defiance Ohio Crescent-News January 28, 2001
  2. ^ U.S. Ministers and Ambassadors to Russia Archived October 6, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, American Embassy, Moscow
  3. ^ a b Mayers, David (1995). The Ambassadors and America's Soviet Policy. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 213. ISBN 0195115767.
  4. ^ U.S. State Department. "Hot Line Agreement (1963)". Atomic Archive. Archived from the original on August 30, 2022. Retrieved August 30, 2022.
  5. ^ Stone, Webster (September 18, 1988). "Moscow's Still Holding". New York Times. Archived from the original on June 30, 2015. Retrieved October 28, 2014.
  6. ^ Limited Test Ban Treaty (1963)
Government offices
Preceded by Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs
December 11, 1959 – August 19, 1962
Succeeded by
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union
Succeeded by