If you need help right away, please call us.

Edgewater (410) 956-4488

Oxon Hill (301) 567-9424

Rear Admiral (LH) James E. Koehr, USN (Ret.)

Rear Admiral (LH) James E. Koehr, USN (Ret.)

Nov 29, 1937 - Dec 15, 2023

Rear Admiral (LH) James E. Koehr, USN (Ret.) - Obituary


ames E. Koehr, a retired Navy Rear Admiral (LH), died of end-stage renal failure at Ginger Cove Retirement Community on December 15, 2023. He was 86 years old. Jim was born, raised, and educated in St. Louis, Missouri, graduating with a B.S. degree from St. Louis University in 1959. After commissioning in the Navy via Officer Candidate School, he commenced a 32-year career, initially as an Intelligence officer but mostly as a Restricted Line Oceanographer in the disciplines of Meteorology, Oceanography, and Hydrography (nautical charting). From 1962 until his retirement from the Navy in 1991, Rear Admiral Koehr participated in, and eventually led, the development of Naval Oceanography. He was in the first group of Navy officers selected for the then-new Oceanography restricted line community and the first Navy Oceanography specialist to be selected for Rear Admiral (LH). On January 25, 2019, he was inducted into the Naval Oceanography and Meteorology Hall of Fame in Mississippi and had an HPE SGI 6800 Supercomputer named in his honor at the DoD Supercomputer Resource Center at the Naval Oceanographic Office. In the course of his Navy career, Jim earned an MS degree in Oceanography/Meteorology; served as Flight Meteorologist for the world record distance flight of a P-3C Orion aircraft; held 4 major commands; and served 2 tours on the CNO staff, one tour at the Center for Naval Analyses (the Navy’s “think tank”), and another tour at the former Defense Mapping Agency Hydrographic Center. His sea duty included tours aboard aircraft carriers and oceanographic/hydrographic survey ships. As Commander, Naval Oceanography Command, then an echelon 2 CNO activity with budget authority, he commanded over 3500 mostly technical (military and civilian) personnel around the world at 50+ shore activities. Additional responsibilities included technical control of 12 survey ships (Military Sealift operated) and VXN-8 (a survey, research, and development squadron). Rear Admiral Koehr’s military awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with 2 Gold Stars, Navy Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal with Bronze Star, Vietnam Service Medal with Bronze Star, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Navy Expert Pistol Medal (.45 caliber), and the Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation. Professionally, he received the Marine Technology Society Special Commendation & Award for 1990 and is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society. Post-Navy, Jim spent six years with Hughes Information Technology Systems, a division of the Hughes Aircraft Company headquartered in Los Angeles. He initially served on the Earth Observing System Data Information System development team, a project of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Subsequently, he was the Director of Advanced Programs, and then Business Development, for Hughes Applied Information Systems (HAIS). On July 14, 1962, Jim married the love of his life, Erma Bulgarelli, whom he met while a patient at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Oakland, California. They both dedicated their marriage and the rest of their lives to the development and education of their four sons. Jim, a former Eagle Scout himself, served for a period of years as Scoutmaster, during which all of his sons became Eagle Scouts, a family tradition of achievement continued today by his grandsons. He also was active in a number of boys’ athletic clubs. He and Erma supported their sons in a multitude of other endeavors, including Catholic Church functions, and athletic and Scouting programs wherever they were stationed. In retirement, Jim continued his tradition of service in his new community in Davidsonville, MD, both as President of the Lake of the Pine Community Association, where he lived, and at Holy Family Catholic Church on the Parish Council and as a lector and choir member. After retiring to Ginger Cove, a Continuing Care Retirement Community in Annapolis, MD, in 2005, Jim served in a number of positions in the Residents Club, including President and as a member of the Annapolis Life Care Board of Directors. There he also pursued his interests in chorus and choir singing, family genealogy, the American Civil War, and family gatherings. In recent years he was an active parishioner of St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Annapolis, where he served as a lector. Rear Admiral Koehr is survived by his wife, Erma (Bulgarelli), a former Navy Nurse whom he married in 1962; four sons – James G. Koehr (Colleen) of Warrenton, VA, John J. Koehr (Melissa) of Hillsborough, NJ, Dr. Bernard E. Koehr of Crofton, MD, and retired Navy Captain Brian D. Koehr (Valerie) of Corolla, NC;17 grandchildren; and 16 great-grandchildren. A funeral Mass will be held on Thursday, January 4, 2024, at 10:30 am at St. John Neumann Catholic Church, 620 Bestgate Road, Annapolis, MD 21401. At his request, Rear Admiral Koehr will be interred with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery at a future date. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Ginger Cove Foundation, 4000 River Crescent Drive, Annapolis, MD 21401.