James “Jim” Harkness Stoehr Jr., a part-time resident of Seawatch, died on February 12 at the age of 83.
He was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on May 23, 1929 to James and Martha Mundy Stoehr and resided in Terrace Park, Ohio.
During summers as a teenager, Jim attended the Culver Academy Summer Naval School, where he developed a lifelong passion for sailing. Jim graduated from Walnut Hills High School and then went on to study at Brown University, where he graduated in 1951 with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering.
Jim enlisted in US Air Force Cadet Pilot Training Program immediately after graduating from Brown University in 1951. His initial flight training was in World Was II era fighter plane trainers and then multi-engine aircraft. Upon completion of training, he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant flight officer in October 1952 at Vance Air Force Base, Edin, Oklahoma. After receiving his wings, Jim completed operational training at Lawson AFB, Columbus, Ga. ( near the big Army base of Ft. Benning ) flying the C-46 Troop Carrier aircraft, a twin engine WW II work horse still used during the Korean war. Jim was transferred overseas to Brady Air Force Base located near the town of Fukuoka in the southern Japan island of Kyushu. There, Jim’s squadron supported troops fighting in Korea, mostly ferrying personnel and supplies and flying some combat air patrol night flare drops for fighter ground attacks. Jim was involved with the evacuation of the US Embassy personnel from Hanoi at the close of the first Vietnam (Indo china) war after the French were defeated (approximately 1954).
After the Korean War Jim was transferred to the Air Force base at Norman, Okla. and transitioned to fly the latest Air Force cargo plane, the C-119, for training prior to being transferred to Everux Air Base in France. He was a 1st lieutenant by then. At the time, Jim was too junior to be a C-119 plane captain, but as luck would have it, on the eve of departure to France one of the planes captains had a family problem and was excused from the mission.
The squadron commander selected Jim to replace him even though he hadn’t been promoted to Captain as yet. So, again, Jim was a plane commander, this time flying it to Europe. Then spending the next year flying to almost every country in Europe, the Mid-East and Africa. While there he accumulated the required hours for advancement and was promoted to Captain. Jim earned the Air Medal for his service in Korea and was honorably discharged as a First Lieutenant.
He joined Cincinnati Floor Company in 1955, the family business that was started by his grandfather Robert A. Stoehr in 1894. His family and many of the carpenters employed by the firm were of German heritage who took great pride in their work. High quality was an absolute necessity and remedial repairs to satisfy the customer was an important part of the culture. This aspect has remained intact for over one hundred years. They took great pride in the quality of their work and treating customers with respect.
Jim served as President of Cincinnati Floor Company and he, along with his cousin Bob Stoehr, ran the company until 1988. In 1977 they bought the company’s largest supplier, Robbins Incorporated. Jim’s background in engineering and the contracting business, along with his keen business mind, played a major role in the development of Robbins. His passion of innovation and development for new and promotable products was unbridled. Under his leadership, Robbins Inc. became the leader in the sports surfaces industry.
He also grew the organization by developing the Robbins Hardwood Flooring division, which produced quality residential and commercial flooring. In 1997 Robbins Inc. became the second largest hardwood flooring manufacturer in the US. Robbins, Inc. continues to manufacture maple flooring for the sports and recreational industry from its plants in White Lake, Wis. and Ishpeming, Mich.
Jim served many associations throughout his life. Past presidencies include: the Cincinnati Chapter of Gyro International, the National Oak Flooring Manufacturers Association, The Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association. He also served as vice-president of his fraternity Psi Upsilon at Brown University. Jim has held membership in numerous clubs including University Club, Camargo Club, Cincinnati Country Club, and Miami Boat Club.
He is survived by Margot Stoehr, his wife of 29 years, along with three children, James (Amy), Katherine Mohrlang (Durell) and Thomas; his two stepsons, John (Meredith) and Philip Ficks; his sister, Diggie Funke (Bill); his six grandchildren, James, Sydney, Madeline, Gretchen Stoehr, Machaela and Devon Mohrlang.
Jim was a lover of life, builder of businesses, a devoted husband, father and grandfather and a true friend to many. He loved spending time in Michigan as well as Boca Grande with Margot. His passions included golf, sailing, paddle tennis, skiing with family, friends and the “Ski Bums” as well as thinking of new business concepts and ideas. His energy was boundless. He was a man of his word, had true integrity, and always a gentleman.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Hospice of Cincinnati, PO Box 633597, Cincinnati, OH 45263; Camping and Education Foundation, 3515 Michigan Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45208; or the Cincinnati Zoo, 3400 Vine Street, Cincinnati, OH 45220.
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