Peter Kohn Passes Away
August 5, 2009
Beloved lacrosse manager and longtime Middlebury College friend, Myron G. "Peter" Kohn, 77, passed away on Aug. 5 at University of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, Pa. The lacrosse legend was unable to recover from a heart attack he suffered on a fishing trip near his home in Cape May, N.J., on Aug. 1.
"Our world just lost one of its kindest souls, leaving us with the responsibility of carrying on his legacy of kindness and humility," said Middlebury College Director of Athletics Erin Quinn.
Peter Kohn was one of the most beloved and unique figures in the lacrosse world. For more than 50 years he was connected to the sport. The subject of a much-publicized documentary, "Keeper Of The Kohn," he started as a field manager for the Park School in Baltimore in 1954. He was manager of the U.S. teams from 1978 to 1998, for the North-South All-Star game for over 25 years and for club teams in the United States Club Lacrosse Association for over 20 years. Kohn worked in the equipment room at Middlebury from 1981-1988, while serving as a manager of the men's lacrosse team. He later began to spend his winters in Florida and returned to campus each spring to work with the team. When time permitted, Kohn also enjoyed helping out with other spring teams at Middlebury as well as teams during his brief visits in the fall and winter. Kohn is well-known throughout the lacrosse world, having served as manager of the U.S. National Team several times at the World Games.
Kohn left an indelible impression upon those he met and inspired. He became known for his generous spirit and tireless loyalty and demonstrated a passion for lacrosse that touched generations of players. Today, the women's field hockey and lacrosse field bears his name.
"He was the heart and soul of the lacrosse program," said women's lacrosse tri-captain Blair Bowie '09. "You could meet any alumnus from the past 40 years of Middlebury lacrosse and talk to her for hours and hours about Peter; he brought people together like that. Essentially, he represented the epitome of pure love of sport for no other reason than the joy of playing."
Kohn maintained a subtle but powerful presence throughout the lacrosse world. His far-reaching contributions to the sport were formally commended in 2004 when he was inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame. Despite receiving numerous accolades and widespread recognition for his outstanding role in the lacrosse community, Kohn remained humble, genuine and focused on his players.
The Baltimore native is the subject of a 2005 award-winning documentary, "Keeper of the Kohn." The film's title is drawn from a longstanding College tradition in which a "keeper," typically a first-year lacrosse athlete, gets selected to care for Kohn-who suffered from mild autism-in the same way he tended the team. Few ever considered the keeper's responsibilities a chore. To the contrary; to spend time with Kohn was to befriend a hero.
"Sorting through years of pictures and memorabilia from hundreds of teams, Pete had a story to go along with every single item," said Jeff Begin '10. "He had been with our program for much longer than we had, and knew more than we could imagine about what it meant to be a part of a team. Whether we were winning or losing, pre-game or post-game, or just huddling up after practice, Pete always kept us in check and reminded us that there's more to the sport than the scoreboard."
(Portions of this story have been reprinted with permission from an article by Sports Editor Emma Gardner that appeared in The Campus on Aug. 5.)