In December 2005, Stewart Kohl '77 and his wife, Donna, contributed the lead gift for the new conservatory facility for jazz studies and other academic programs. The Bertram and Judith Kohl Building is named in memory of Kohl's parents, who died while the building was under construction.
Bertram and Judith Kohl were married for 57 years and lived most of their lives in Leonia, New Jersey. Both were active in Leonia politics and in the local community.
Bertram Kohl served as a Leonia councilman and was instrumental in bringing cable TV with its educational and local content, as well as a municipal pool, to the town. Mr. Kohl enlisted in the U.S. Army as a private in 1941, rose to the rank of captain in the Quartermaster Corps, and was decorated for his service in France. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at Brooklyn College and spent most of his career as a manufacturer's representative in the electronics industry.
As a young mother in the late 1950s, Judith Kohl commuted to Brooklyn College at night by public transportation while her husband watched their sons. It took her eight years to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree, graduating with 4.0 GPA and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She served as New Jersey state Sen. Matthew Feldman's chief of staff for nearly 20 years, a role in which she was known as "the Godmother," a reference to the help she gave numerous constituents.
"My parents loved Oberlin," notes Kohl. "On their many visits, they were taken by the academic rigor, warm community, and artistic excellence here. They loved my Oberlin friends and understood what a difference it made in my life."