Marie C. Kohler and Ruth DeYoung Kohler Papers, 1920-1944, 1953, 1955


Marie C. Kohler was the daughter of John Michael Kohler and Lillian Vollrath. Her father was the founder of the Kohler Company, having started the business when he bought the Vollrath machine shop in 1873. Marie's mother died and, subsequently, her father married Lillian's sister, Wilhelmina. John Michael and Wilhelmina had one son, Herbert V. Kohler, Sr. He married Ruth DeYoung who had grown up in Illinois. Therefore, Marie and Ruth were sisters-in-law through Marie's half-brother Herbert.

Marie C. Kohler was born in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, in 1876. She was raised and educated first in a local, private school and then in the public school in Sheboygan. As a young woman she attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison and received her Bachelor of Arts degree from that institution. After graduating from college, Marie spent some years teaching literature in Sheboygan's public high school. She also acted as secretary for the Kohler Company. Her active career in various civic organizations was not limited to those organizations found in the Sheboygan area. This is testified to by her long involvement in the Wisconsin Conference of Social Work (WCSW) which began some time prior to 1922 and continued until 1942. She was also a member of the Citizens' Committee on Unemployment during the early 1930s, on the Wisconsin Welfare Council in the 1940s, and campaigned for Willkie in the 1940 presidential election. Her ally in her social work was her brother Walter J. Kohler, Sr. who served as governor of the state of Wisconsin from 1929 to 1931. She died in 1943 at the age of 67, never having married.

Ruth DeYoung Kohler was born in Illinois in 1906. Her father, Frederic R. DeYoung, was a chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court. Ruth attended college in Northampton, Massachusetts, at Smith College. After graduating from Smith, she spent a year in Europe. Upon her return to the United States, Ruth obtained a job as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune. She eventually became the newspaper's Women's Editor. In 1937, Ruth DeYoung married Herbert V. Kohler, Sr. She, too, led an active life involved in civic organizations. Her last endeavor, the restoration of Wade House, was meant to be a tribute to her sister-in-law, Marie C. Kohler. Ruth, however, died three months before the dedication of the historic stagecoach inn. This was in 1953. Her son, Herbert V. Kohler, Jr., is the current president of the Kohler Company.