SPIROL's Hans Koehl passes away

Hans H. Koehl, a key figure for SPIROL, has sadly passed away. 

Retired from active management of SPIROL as Chairman and CEO in 2004 after 45 years dedicated service, he remained a steadfast leader as Chairman of the Holding Board of Directors and as trustee and founding member of the SPIROL Charitable Foundation. 

SPIROL has prepared a full obituary: 

Hans passed away peacefully surrounded by his wife Christina, son Jeff, and close friend Russ on November 30, 2023.  Born in Stolberg, Germany to the late Herman Koehl and Maria Altdorf Koehl, Hans immigrated with his mother, father and two sisters, Gerda and Emmy, to the United States in 1948 and settled in Woodstock, CT.

Shortly after starting school in the US, Hans quickly mastered the English language and skipped ahead two grades within his first year at The Woodstock Academy.  After graduating from Killingly High School in Dayville, CT, Hans went on to earn his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering with distinction from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in 1956, and his Juris Doctorate from Stanford University in 1958.  While at WPI, Hans was a member of the men’s soccer team, and he participated in Masque (student led dramatic theater organization), the Peddler (yearbook for the graduating class) and the Debating Club.  He was also a member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity where he served as President his senior year. 

A brilliant engineer and keen businessman, Hans joined Connecticut Engineering and Manufacturing Company (now called SPIROL) in 1959 after passing the bar in both California and Connecticut. Hans was elected Executive Vice President and Counsel in 1962, and President in 1965, before becoming Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in 1969.  Under his leadership, the company was transformed from a small, family-owned business into a world-renowned manufacturing company with locations on 4 continents and in 13 countries.

Hans retired from active management of SPIROL as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in 2004 after 45 years of dedicated service, yet remained a steadfast leader as Chairman of the Holding Board of Directors and Managing Director of SPIROL Europe, and as Trustee and founding member of the SPIROL Charitable Foundation.  Governor M. Jodi Rell proclaimed August 26, 2004 as Hans H. Koehl Day in the State of Connecticut on the occasion of his being honored by employees of SPIROL and stated, “Throughout his tenure at SPIROL, Hans Koehl has displayed professionalism, an outstanding work ethic and a commitment to excellence that are truly appreciated.  He has been an inspirational leader and a role model for all citizens to follow.”

In support of his commitment to education and passion for engineering, Hans spearheaded the establishment of the SPIROL Scholarship Program which has awarded over $1 million to local students dedicated to community service who pursue a degree in engineering, basic science and manufacturing technology.  His unwavering financial support of local schools funded the expansion of facilities and the implementation of new programs in support of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) at The Woodstock Academy, Killingly High School, Ellis Tech, and Quinebaug Valley Community College. 

Hans was an amazing man, and his impact is far reaching beyond his unparalleled contributions to SPIROL.  Firmly dedicated in giving back to the local community, Hans held several Directorships serving on the Board of Directors of the CT Bank & Trust, the Danielson Federal Savings and Loan Association, the Crystal Water Company, Linemaster Switch (Woodstock, CT) and Prym Dritz Corp (Spartanburg, SC).  He served as a Director and Vice President of the Northeastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce and served on the Brooklyn Planning and Zoning Commission, the Brooklyn Board of Finance, the Brooklyn Housing Authority, and the Capital Expenditure Committee for the town of Brooklyn.  He was a founder, former President and Trustee of the Danielson Exchange Club, and active with the Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA) and local Rotary Club.  

Altruistic to his core, Hans was a fierce supporter and contributor to the Audubon Society, the YMCA, 4H Club, Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, and Day Kimball Hospital.  He remained an active and valued member of the WPI community throughout his life.  He was a member of the WPI Presidential Founders (recognizing those who have contributed $100,000 or more to the university), and received both the Robert H. Goddard Award for Outstanding Professional Achievement in 1996 and the Herbert F. Taylor Award for Distinguished Service in 2011, recognizing his extraordinary personal commitment and exceptional service to WPI.  He and his wife Christina also established the Koehl Merit Scholarship Fund in honor of his parents who prized education.

In addition to his lifelong and distinguished achievements, it is his impact on the people in his life that meant the most to him.  Hans was a humble and inspirational leader, and motivated everyone to always do their best.  He played a critical role in the professional success and personal happiness of thousands of people.  He was kind, exceedingly generous, and gave freely of his time to mentor and enrich the lives of those who knew him by sharing the lessons he learned throughout his storied life and career.

Hans was an avid skier, skilled boater, and enjoyed spending time with family and friends at his home on Sugarbush Mountain (VT) in the winters and at his seaside cottage in Southport, Maine, in the summers.  As one who loved to travel the world, over the last few years, Hans walked the Great Wall of China, cruised the Mississippi, Rhine and Danube Rivers, went on an African Safari, and an expedition to Antarctica – these last two trips of which he considered to be trips of his lifetime.  He truly defined the phrase “work hard, play hard.”

Hans was preceded in death by his father Herman Koehl, mother Maria Altdorf Koehl, sister Gerda and her husband Richard Harrington, daughter Denise Koehl, nephew Richard Harrington Jr, and cousin Tao Altdorf.  He is survived by his beloved wife Christina Haiss Koehl, son Jeff Koehl, grandson Colin Koehl and wife Lauren, granddaughter Kendyl Hanna, his dear nephew Ethan Aspiras, sister Emmy DeGregorio and husband Joe, niece Susan DeGregorio, nephew Michael DeGregorio, nephew David DeGregorio, Joseph “Kyle” DeGregorio, niece Patricia Graham, nephew Kevin Harrington, cousin Julia Altdorf, many great nieces and nephews, and countless friends and colleagues who loved him dearly.

Hans is many things to many people.  A second father, a mentor, a coach and a friend.  His incredible entrepreneurial spirit was an inspiration, his dedication in giving to our community admirable, and he will live on in the legacy that he leaves behind.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in memory of Hans Koehl to the CT Audubon Society; PO Box 11, Pomfret Center, CT 06259 or to Friends of Assisi Food Pantry at 77 Water Street, Killingly, CT 06239.