Announced this week was the passing of former Southern Pacific Intermodal Manager Paul Koehler. Paul worked for the SP in a variety of intermodal traffic management positions in the Los Angeles area from the 1960s forward. Paul was very active in the formation and nurturing of the Southern Pacific Historical and Technical Society, serving at various times as President, Vice President and Business Manager.
My interactions with Paul were via the SPH&TS. In spite of quite different personal styles, I came to appreciate the management and business acumen of Paul. I was particularly impressed when then-VP Paul Koehler had to take over at the 2011 SPH&TS Convention in Portland for the cancer-stricken President Paul Lyons, basically at the last minute. Paul K. adapted to conditions in Portland and ran a successful convention. He seemed to be “everywhere,” and did it well.
Such individuals can be lightning rods, and Paul Koehler was no exception. Still, I came to understand and appreciate his views on the business side of the organization. One area that was never in question—we both cared passionately about the Southern Pacific.
Paul was renowned for twisting folk’s arms, particularly where it concerned getting a donation. Although I was able to resist a few of these entreaties, I may have surprised him when I leaped into the effort that provided the Society capital to purchase the injection mold dies for the Red Caboose F-70-7 flat car, which launched the SP Models program of the SPH&TS. OK, that was self-serving, as I got some great models that currently run on my model railroad. Still, the time was ripe for that move by the Society.
A few years ago, as my model railroad clearly reached a regular operating status, I received a small package from Paul. Contained within were a set of cardstock billboards, sized well for HO scale. They had been part of marketing promotions by the SP and reflected full-sized billboards the SP commissioned at various spots around the system to promote the railroad’s transportation services. Two of these found places on my railroad.
SP billboard located at the RR-West end of my Oakridge Yard.
SP billboard located at the RR-West end of my Eugene Depot area. This one is a constant reminder for me of Paul Koehler. He was active in intermodal developments for the SP in the Los Angeles area.
Our Southern Pacific enthusiast community has lost one of our significant contributors and promotors. Rest in Peace Paul.