Cover photo for Rayome Koehler's Obituary
Rayome Koehler Profile Photo
1938 Rayome 2015

Rayome Koehler

May 26, 1938 — September 1, 2015

Rayome Koehler, age 77, of Erskine, MN, passed away on Tuesday, September 1st, at McIntosh Senior Living in McIntosh, MN. Memorial services will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, September 22nd, at Rodnes Lutheran Church, rural Erskine, with the Rev. Peter Satren officiating. Interment will be in Maple Lake Lutheran Cemetery, rural Fertile, MN. Family will greet friends for one hour prior to the service on Tuesday at the church. Arrangements are with the Carlin-Hoialmen Funeral Home of Erskine and messages of condolence may be sent at www.carlinhoialmen.com.Rayome Clark Koehler was no ordinary person. Born in Crookston, Minnesota on May 26, 1938, he demonstrated exceptional musical talent while attending high school in Erskine, earning superior ratings for his vocal performances repeatedly at both district and state competitions. As a unique distinction, Rayome was selected from hundreds of vocal and instrumental soloists to perform at an evening concert as a culmination of the district-level music festival at Fosston. He sang "O Sole Mio" in Italian.Rayome decided to pursue teaching as a career and attended teacher training school in Thief River Falls, after which he began teaching at Sunnyside School in rural Fosston. He graduated from Bemidji State College and began teaching elementary school in Fosston for almost two decades. In keeping with his artistic talent and keen business acumen, he opened Koehler Floral in Fosston and eventually opened branches in both Mahnomen and Fertile. A passionately community service-oriented person, Rayome founded the Embassy Community Center in the 1980s (located in the old Baptist church) and served as both director and board president. The Center became a hub of activity over the years-the site of senior meals, the Fosston Community Theater, the Singles' Christian Fellowship, area musical concerts, and meals for the homeless. "I want to make sure that people in the community aren't lonely," Rayome said. He also founded the Fosston Garden Club and was an active participant in the Sons of Norway.Rayome turned to the local press to disseminate information and give readers a sense of community. He contributed inspirational columns and area news to the Erskine Echo, Thirteen Towns, McIntosh Times, and the Fertile Journal for years, always with a goal of keeping people connected.Music pervaded his entire life. During his early years in Fosston, Rayome produced "Moments of Melody," a weekly gospel music broadcast via KROX in Crookston. Later he brought teens and seniors together to create a multigenerational choir that rehearsed at the Embassy and performed frequently throughout the years. He also sang at countless weddings, funerals, and other events in Fosston and the surrounding area.After retiring from Koehler Floral, Rayome spent his senior years at his parents' home near Maple Lake and remained characteristically active at Rodnes Lutheran Church, serving as a music coordinator, performer, congregational vice-president, and Sunday School superintendent and teacher. Rayome received several major awards during his career. He was named Fosston's "Citizen of the Year" in 1983. Then, in a Minneapolis ceremony in 2004 entitled "Far From Ordinary," he was the recipient of the prestigious McKnight Foundation award for human service. Later, he was recognized as "Polk County Outstanding Senior Citizen of the Year" and honored at the Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul.Rayome passed away at McIntosh Senior Living Center on September 1, 2015. He was preceded in death by his parents, Raymond and Beatrice Koehler, and is survived by his brother Boyd (Imogene) of Minneapolis.
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