Public Safety

Victims of fatal plane crash near Oxford remembered for positive attitudes, dedication

Funerals for Terry Koehn and Jim Spicer are Wednesday

Jim Spicer (left) and Terry Koehn. (contributed photos)
Jim Spicer (left) and Terry Koehn. (contributed photos)

OXFORD — Even after he retired from the Coralville Police Department in 2003, former Lt. Terry Koehn would make regular visits to the police station.

“He was always positive, even when we talked about hard things” said retired Coralville Chief Barry Bedford. “He’d come in smiling and leave smiling. That’s what I’m going to remember most and miss the most.”

Those who knew Koehn, 70, and Jim Spicer, 53, said Monday the men will be remembered for their positive attitudes, dedication and love for flying. They died Friday when the single-engine 1965 Piper Cherokee 180 they were flying crashed around 3:08 p.m. in rural Johnson County. The crash remains under investigation.

Brian Spicer called his father a “people person.”

“If you’ve ever had a guy at the grocery store standing in front of you, talking to you for 15 minutes, that was him,” Spicer said.

Jim Spicer had a “wide range of hobbies,” his son said, including cars and flying. He’d made annual trips to a fly-in and convention in Oshkosh, Wis., and loved rooting for Minnesota sports teams and the Bisons of North Dakota State University, his alma mater.

Bedford said Koehn was hired as the first detective in the city of Coralville in 1973 after serving with the reserves. He retired 30 years later as a lieutenant. Bedford said his longtime friend and colleague was meticulous and a bit of a perfectionist.

“He always had a smile on his face,” he said. “He was always jocular. He enjoyed good practical jokes on people.”

Police work was a passion for Koehn, Bedford said.

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Koehn was one of the detectives on the 1985 death of Lance DeWoody. A few years ago, Koehn asked to look at the case again. Coralville Chief Shane Kron — who worked with Koehn on the case when it was reopened — credited Koehn’s dedication.

“He was a cop,” Kron said. “That’s what he was. It’s who he was. I don’t think it ever dawned on him not to help or not to solve cases or not to touch base and see what he could do. He retired, but he didn’t really retire. ... He stayed involved with the department.”

In an interview in 2016, Koehn said that dedication is just part of who he was.

“It’s in your DNA when you’ve done that job that long,” he said.

Kron said whenever Koehn came into the station, he was usually on his way to — or from — the Green Castle airport near Oxford.

Bob Nelson, who founded the airport in 1975 and the Green Castle Aero Club in 1993, taught Koehn how to fly in the mid-1990s. In the early 2000s, Koehn started teaching lessons, as well.

“He was very determined on anything he did,” Nelson recalled. “He went into it whole hog.”

Koehn became so involved with the club that when Nelson retired from running it about five years ago, he turned it over to Koehn.

“He was a great friend,” Nelson said. “He’s just the type of guy you felt like you could trust.”

Nelson said he anticipates there will be some kind of dedication for Koehn at Green Castle, but he doesn’t know when it will take place.

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Koehn is survived by his wife Darcy of Iowa City, son Aaron of North Liberty and his siblings Kay Cook of Belle Plaine and Lonny Koehn of Victor.

Spicer was employed at ITC Midwest as the manager for project engineering at the time of his death.

“Jim was an integral and beloved member of the ITC family,” said Tom Peterson, director of communications. “He embodied the spirit of the company and was a key part of the company’s success.

“But his greater contribution came out of who he was as a person; through his positive attitude, his passion for people and his personal integrity. He was unlike anyone I have ever worked with and the ITC team will miss him dearly.”

A funeral Mass for Spicer takes place at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at St. Ludmila Catholic Church, 211 21st Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids. Visitation is from 3 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the church with a scripture service planned for 3 p.m.

A funeral service for Koehn takes place at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, 1701 Eighth St., Coralville. Visitation is from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Lensing Oak Hill Funeral Home, 210 Holiday Road, Coralville.

l Comments: (319) 398-8238; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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