JACKSON TWP — Hundreds of people turned out Tuesday night to a memorial service in honor of Frank Kohler, the former Zelienople resident who was killed Sept. 16 in the mass shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C.
At the request of the family, the memorial service held in the Seneca Valley Intermediate High School auditorium was off limits to the media, but it was clear from the lines of cars snaking down Seneca School Road that Kohler left behind a large legacy, one that many people came out to remember.
Kohler, 50, graduated from Seneca Valley High School in 1980. He was a three-time letter winner in swimming at the school.
He later earned a computer science degree from Slippery Rock University and moved to Maryland, where he provided technological services to the government for 27 years.
The self-employed, contracted employee was at the Navy Yard on Sept. 16 for a meeting concerning a project when the shooting broke out. A gunman killed 12 and injured eight others. He was killed in a shootout with authorities.
Kohler of Tall Timbers, Md., leaves behind his wife, Michelle; his daughters; his parents; and his brother and sisters.
Linda Andreassi, director of communications for the Seneca Valley School District, said in a statement before the memorial service that it was the family’s wishes to keep the service private.
Andreassi also said she couldn’t remember another time when the school was used for a memorial service for a former graduate.
While so many residents came out to remember a person who touched so many lives, the outpouring of support for the Kohler family isn’t just a local affair.
The Lexington Park Rotary Club in Maryland, which Kohler belonged to, has set up a memorial fund to help pay for Kohler’s two daughters to attend college. They both are at Liberty University in Virginia.
Jack Pappas, president of that Rotary Club, said he is honored to spearhead that effort to recognize such a wonderful man. He added the community there has rallied around the family in the aftermath of the tragedy.
“I think Frank’s circle of influence is now fully being recognized,” Pappas said.
“The man was active in all facets of the community, from Rotary to church and others. And on top of it all, he was just a really, really nice man.”
Anyone wanting to donate to the fund can mail contributions to the Foundation of the Rotary Club of Lexington Park, P.O. Box 202, Lexington Park, Md. 20653, attention Kohler College Fund.