Toms River Regional Schools Hall of Fame

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Dan Kahler

Dan Kahler was born in Coffeyville, Kansas, but grew up attending public schools in Providence, Rhode Island; Carlisle, Pennsylvania; and Toms River. In 1942, Dan's father joined the Navy and was stationed at Lakehurst Naval Air Station. As a result, Dan became a student at Toms River High School.

In Dan's senior year, the 1944 year book reported he was known as "BMOC" (Big Man on Campus). He was voted "Best Boy Athlete", "Most Popular Boy", "Boy with Most Pleasing Personality," and Senior Class Vice-President. During his Junior and Senior years at TRHS, he lettered in basketball, football and baseball. He led all New Jersey high school basketball scorers with 576 points, averaging 23.8 points a game. The 1944 basketball team won the Central Jersey Championship and advanced to the final four tournament in New Brunswick, but lost to Dumont. Dan was named to the first team all state squad, the only player so named from the Shore Conference. The fifth member of the TRHS team was Dan's brother Con, who was also a great athlete and led the 1945 football team as quarterback to the Central Jersey State championship. Con passed away at age 33 of colon cancer. Dan took his basketball skills to the football field, where he began the art of one-handed catches, as he jumped and reached high in the air to bring down the ball.

Dan entered the Navy in the summer of 1944 and served aboard a Liberty Ship in the South Pacific as a signalman. When the war ended, he was stationed at the Armed Guard Naval Center in Brooklyn, New York. He was the leading scorer and rebounder on the U.S. Navy team that won the Armed Forces basketball championship in Madison Square Garden in 1946.

He returned to civilian life and earned a bachelor's degree from Southwestern College, a master's degree from Emporia State, and his doctorate from Oklahoma State University. Dan earned 15 letters from Southwestern College and played in Madison Square Garden in the East-West All-Star basketball game. In the fall of 1950, he played for the United States in the first World Championship Basketball Tournament in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Dan began a teaching career in Arkansas City High School in Kansas, and later (with a master's degree in English) taught at the junior college. He also directed plays and coached football anti basketball. His basketball teams won 170 games and lost 48; capturing four state and six conference titles along with a regular season national championship. In 1959, he became the Arkansas City High Principal; he moved to Lawrence, Kansas in 1963. Dan opened Oak Park High School in Missouri as its first principal in 1965. He retired in 1986 to write, speak, and teach college courses in English. At age 79, he continues to speak, write, and serve the community. His last book, Successful Schools: Achievincl Excellence Throuah STAR Theory, became available in November 2001.

Some of his honors include the "Greater Kansas City Teacher of the Year" in 1988 and the "Kindest Kansas Citizen" award in 1991. He was named "The Missouri Mentor" in 1995 for influencing more than 8,000 beginning teachers as keynoter of sixty Missouri Beginning Teacher Conferences. In 1996, the newly founded North Kansas City Schools Education Foundation named its grants, The Dan Kahler Teacher Grants.

In August 2001, the Missouri State Department of Education presented Dan the prestigious Pioneer in Education Award for his distinguished and creative career as an educator. In 2002, Cowley County Community College named its basketball court "The Dan Kahler Court" in honor of his exemplary service and record as coach and teacher in the 1950s. He is a member of two Athletic Halls of Fame: Cowley County Community College and Southwestern College, as well as the latter's Educators Hall of Fame. The North Kansas City Schools Staff Development Department presented him the first Joanne Beebe "Vision Award" in May 2002, emblematic of the one who has done the most to help fellow educators grow.

Dan has been married to Violet Louese Beatty Kahler for 56 years. They have two children and four grandchildren. Unfortunately, Violet was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in the fall of 1996 in the mild stage. She gradually moved into the moderate and then advanced stages of the disease. Since November 2001, Dan has been her principal caregiver and plans to be until she is called home.

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