Michèle Kohler, 1945-2022

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Michèle Kohler, who has died aged 76, was a generous supporter of the Open Spaces Society.

Michèle was born in California in 1945. The family moved to New York after the war where her parents were both family doctors. She read history at the University of Rochester, New York, when she was only 15.

This painting of Michèle is called: ‘Odd socks and smiling face, Michèle at play’, by Diane Umemoto.

In 1972, after she had finished her PhD in eighteenth-century Scottish history, she looked for a job in academia. She responded to an advertisement in The Times Literary Supplement for a specialist in eighteenth-century history to write an introduction for a catalogue of antiquarian books. Although she did not get the job, she married Chris Kohler, the cataloguer, and became a bookseller, cataloguing thousands of old books.

They lived at Westhumble near Dorking, and Michèle loved to walk on the nearby North Downs Way. She soon became involved with local footpath diversions, and they joined the Open Spaces Society. Michèle appreciated our vigorous approach to protecting common land and public paths. She was an early-music impresario, staging memorable concerts under the rubric ‘Cornflower presents’ in local parish churches.

Michéle and her husband, Chris, in 1995.

Michèle frequently sent us cheques, particularly to commemorate an anniversary for the society; she was always thinking of us.

Michèle’s funeral reception was at the Burford Bridge hotel underneath Box Hill, the location of their wedding reception 20 years earlier. Her friends made donations to the society, her favourite charity. in her memory, raising nearly £1,000.

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