|40th Mayor of Cleveland|
|Preceded by||William S. Fitzgerald|
|Succeeded by||William R. Hopkins|
|Born||William Rowland Hopkins
March 16, 1866
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
|Died||January 30, 1934
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Josephine Modroch (m. 1888)|
Life and career
He was born in Cleveland to Christian and Fredericka Kohler. As a teenager, he left school to help his father in Kohler Stone Works. After his father's death, the business ended and Kohler sought work elsewhere.
In 1889, Kohler joined the police force and quickly rose to prominence. In 1900, he was promoted to captain and in 1903, Mayor Tom L. Johnson appointed Kohler as chief of police. He had a very brusque style of law enforcement and always expected the absolute maximum from all policemen, demanding a neat appearance and full day's work. While some, such as President Theodore Roosevelt, applauded him as "the country's finest chief of police", he was disliked by political partisans who disapproved of his contempt for political favoritism. After Johnson left the mayor's office in 1909, opposition forces began gathering up to rid the city of Kohler. In 1913, Kohler was fired from his position by Civil Service Commission on charges of neglect of duty and gross immorality, after becoming wrapped up in an ugly divorce suit brought by a salesman against his adulterous wife. A month later, a gang of hired thugs mugged and brutally beat Kohler in an alley off Short Vincent Street.
Kohler made it through the tussle and instead of deciding to leave Cleveland, he devoted himself to politics. In 1918, he was elected Cuyahoga County commissioner as a Republican, serving two terms. His tenure as commissioner served him well when he campaigned and was elected mayor of Cleveland. He served one term from 1922 to 1924. As mayor, Kohler concentrated on the economy in city government, cutting payrolls and city services, and persuading private agencies to care for families on relief. However, Kohler started becoming unpopular again when he "cleaned up" City Hall by slashing municipal expenses and firing 850 patronage employees.
In 1924, the city adopted a city manager plan, and Kohler did not seek reelection. Instead, he was elected sheriff. He left office in 1926, after being accused of underfeeding the prisoners in jail. He suffered a stroke in 1932 and died in 1934.
Kohler began to suffer from increasingly fragile health in 1930. He considered running for mayor again in 1931, but declined after his physicians advised him that his health would not bear the stress of a campaign. He vacationed in St. Petersburg, Florida, as usual in the winter of 1931-1932, but was forced to return home to Cleveland after suffering an undisclosed severe illness. Kohler often spent his summers traveling in Europe. On July 7, 1934, he was aboard the SS Champlain, nearing the United Kingdom, when he suffered a severe stroke that left him severely paralyzed. He was transferred to another vessel, and sent home. His entire left side was paralyzed, and he often suffered uncontrollable weeping.
Over the next 18 months, Kohler's health improved slightly. He could sit up, take automobile drives, and be wheeled to appointments. Toward the end of his life, he even attempted to walk again, although he could take only a few halting steps. At 10:30 AM on Monday, January 29, 1934, Kohler suffered a second, severe stroke. He lapsed into unconsciousness and died at 11 PM on January 30, 1934. He was buried at Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland.
- "Kohler Is Stricken At Sea". The Plain Dealer. July 8, 1932. p. 1.
- "Fred Kohler Dies After 2d Stroke". The Plain Dealer. January 31, 1934. pp. 1, 6.
- "Police At Last Salute to Kohler". The Plain Dealer. February 3, 1934. p. 7.
- The Encyclopedia Of Cleveland History by Cleveland Bicentennial Commission (Cleveland, Ohio), David D. Van Tassel (Editor), and John J. Grabowski (Editor) ISBN 0-253-33056-4
- The Cleveland 200: The Most Noted, Notable and Notorious in the First 200 Years of a Great American City by Thomas Kelly ISBN 0-9644509-2-5
William S. Fitzgerald
|Mayor of Cleveland
William R. Hopkins