Robert “Bob” Koehnlein, a life-long resident of Waukesha, lived elsewhere only for his time studying music at Vandercook College and for the years he served in the U.S. Army, including service in Vietnam as a member of the 1st Cav Band.
A musical prodigy, he was singing German opera at an early age and regaled the congregation of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church with the beauty of his voice as he sang hymns on Sunday. He mastered numerous instruments including oboe and piano. “In Vietnam,” he said, “I often carried an M-16 in one hand and a saxophone in the other.”
Apart from his work as a musician performing at various venues, he worked as a postal employee to support his family: his wife, Marilyn (nee Oppitz), and his children David (Jeana) and Marlese (Adam) and Samuel Rondeau (Sandra) of Colorado. He is survived by a brother, Walter, and his wife Judy, nieces, nephews and many friends.
An avid outdoorsman, he was an expert fisherman and a highly knowledgeable hunter of mushrooms. He had a biting wit and a brilliant sense of humor ranging from the silliest wordplay to the starkest dark humor, that humor stemming from his service in Vietnam.
Predeceased by his parents, Henry and Margaret Koehnlein.
He was born on October 19, 1945, and died on February 1, 2024, of complications from cancer caused by exposure to defoliants used in Vietnam, another casualty of the Vietnam War.
Bob had requested a private family service.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to be made to Waukesha Humane Animal Welfare Society (hawspets.org) or Veterans for Peace (veteransforpeace.org).