Kreth James Koehler was a proud dad, a dedicated nurse, a dependable brother, a loyal friend, and an honorable veteran.
Kreth survived over two years with Stage IV lung cancer. Never smoked a day in his life. He beat the cancer back with a successful surgery to remove a tumor from his lung in 2014. A few months later, he achieved his life’s goal by becoming a father when his son, Jack, was born. Kreth cherished all the time he had with Jack, who is now a handsome and precocious Kindergartner.
The cancer returned, though, spreading to Kreth’s bones in 2018. Despite a tough surgery putting his hip back together, Kreth returned to the work he was born to do--nursing. He loved being a nurse. His mother was a nurse. Kreth served as a nurse in the military and as a personal nurse to the late businessman and philanthropist Jack Stephens until Mr. Stephens’ death. Kreth then went to work at UAMS, where he spent the last decade caring for clients on the transplant floor. He had a reputation for being a fierce advocate for his patients. The effects from the insufferable chemo and the spreading cancer finally brought an end to Kreth’s career in 2019.
Kreth grew up in Sherwood, Arkansas and graduated from Sylvan Hills High School in 1980. It was there he developed his fondness for KISS, a rock band he would devotedly see in concert numerous times throughout his life, as recently as last year, even while undergoing chemo.
After high school, Kreth enlisted in the Air Force, serving on active duty until 1985. Then he joined the Air National Guard, served in Desert Storm, and eventually retired with the rank of Captain in 2005. Along the way, Kreth earned two Bachelor of Science Degrees, one in biology, the other in nursing.
In the late 1980s, while attending the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, Kreth helped found the Arkansas Zeta Chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. Under Kreth’s leadership as chapter president, Sig Ep built UCA's first residential fraternity house, where members continue to reside today. Kreth remained committed to the brotherhood, serving on the chapter’s alumni board and volunteering with students. Throughout his life, Kreth personified the fraternity’s three principles: virtue, diligence, and brotherly love.
Kreth was preceded in death by his parents, Julius and Elizabeth Morehead Koehler, and his brother, Kirk, who died at age 20, a tragic loss from which Kreth never really recovered.
Kreth is survived by his wife, Alisa Carter, and their 5-year-old son, Jack Koehler, both of North Little Rock; his sister, Regina Anne Benezue, as well as numerous, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, and in-laws.
Kreth Koehler was 58, but when he was healthy, happy, and playing outside with Jack, he didn’t look a day over 49. And that’s how he will be remembered.
A graveside service will be held at the Arkansas State Veterans Cemetery in NLR on March 19th at 1 pm. In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes donations to the “Kreth Koehler Memorial Fund” at any U.S. Bank branch. Funds will support his son’s education.
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