Dr. Robert Harvey Kohr

A professor of Mechanical Engineering for eight years at Purdue University, Dr. Kohr was returning from a speech he had given at a conference in Cincinnati. Born in Washington DC, he had earned his B.S. & M.S. Degrees from the University of Michigan. Formerly, he was an engineer with Holley Carburetor Company and General Motors, where he held patents on automotive steering systems.  Dr. Kohr earned his Ph.D. at Purdue, specializing in computer simulation of mechanical systems.

He left behind his wife, Jill, and sons William (11) and Stephen (who turned 8 only eleven days after the crash).

Through gracious contact with Dr. Kohr's son Stephen, I am happy to be able to offer these items on this page:

A three-page article from the Purdue University School of Engineering Backgrounder of October, 1965, which details some research Dr. Kohr was involved in at that time.


Dr. Kohr had traveled to Cincinnati to deliver a lecture on the 9th.  Here are two pages of the lecture program detailing his contributions.  According to his son, he had decided to leave the conference just after lunch to return home to West Lafayette. Nothing against the other presenters, he'd just called his wife and said he'd wanted to come home...

Dr. Kohr's final doctoral student at Purdue (Paul Johansen, Ph.D.1970) has offered the following tribute, which we include with gracious permission of the author:

Robert Harvey Kohr was born in Washington, D.C. in 1925. He earned his B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan. Between 1954 and 1960 he worked at General Motors, concentrating chiefly on analysis and simulation of vehicle dynamics. He earned his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University in 1962 and achieved the rank of Professor in 1967. Robert Kohr's life was extraordinary, especially considering it ended tragically just as he was approaching the peak of his intellectual insight and vigor.

Robert Kohr was the consummate classroom professor. The courses he taught at Purdue attracted the best and brightest students, both undergraduate and graduate. His meticulously-prepared lecture notes and articulate style made every class meeting a stimulating experience. He advocated the heuristic approach to problem solving, a philosophy that attracted undergraduate students to consider graduate school and graduate students to seek his commitment to mentor them through their studies and research.

Robert Kohr was an exemplary research adviser. He required of his doctoral students a solid background in mathematics and supporting course work from outside the Mechanical Engineering School. He expected well-thought-out research proposals from candidates before initiating their thesis research. He demanded rigorous attention to facts and details. The success of his teaching, research and mentoring styles led several of his doctoral students to seek careers in the academic community.

Robert Kohr was a gentleman, devoted husband and father. He was respected by his students, colleagues and social and professional acquaintances as a man of high moral character, a loyal and trusted friend and a solid citizen. He died in a mid-air collision near Shelbyville, Indiana on September 9, 1969. He was 44 years old. He left behind his wife Jill Mary Kohr and two sons, William, age 11, and Stephen, age 7.

And finally, we would like to offer the fact that yellow roses were his favorite. 

Visiting his memorial stone in the cemetery at Shelbyville, it might be appropriate to leave him one.

This picture taken on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the crash, 9/9/09


born 7/7/1925

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