For the last year and a half of his service in the Navy, Ronald L. Koeller was in charge of transferring oil from one ship to another, from tank to tank on his ship and the ballasting of the ship. He was known as the “Oil King.”
“I was always mechanically inclined,” Koeller said. “When I went into the service, I had a high score on my mechanical abilities test. It was my highest category of all the tests. When I was in the Navy, I was in the engineering department on the ship in the boiler division. My last year and a half in the Navy, I was the Oil King for the ship [and was] in charge of transferring oil from one ship to the other and [from] one tank to another on the ship.”
Koeller finished his service in May of 1956 and was bound for technical school. He also began working on used cars at a Buick dealership doing auto body repairs and paint work.
In 1979, Koeller opened R/K Autobody in Crystal Lake. Approaching its 40th anniversary on Feb. 2, R/K Autobody continues to serve local and Chicago-area customers from its 266 Prairie St. address.
“We have a very good reputation for quality and safe repairs,” Koeller said. “We have a good track record and very few complaints. When there is a customer concern about repairs, we address the issue and make sure we take care of it. We want to do a good job for our customers.”
At 86 years old, Koeller is not at the shop full-time, but said he doesn’t really consider himself retired just yet, as he still pops in to check on things.
“I’m not quite as quick as I used to be or as agile as I once was, but I’m still vertical and I can see a problem when I need to,” Koeller said.
The Crystal Lake resident lives with his second wife, Ellen Marie Richter, and enjoys spending time with his three children, 12 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren---soon to be 17, as two more are on the way. Koeller said he mostly has good days, but some are better than others.