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Karl Mahle

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July 1935–June 2022

Karl Mahle, beloved husband, father, brother, grandfather, great-grandfather, uncle, teacher and friend died peacefully at his home in Louisville, Colo., on June 30, with his wife, Maggie, by his side. He was 86.

Karl was born in 1935 in Pennsylvania, where he enjoyed a very happy childhood as the second of four children. In 1957, he received his B.A. in health and physical education at East Stroudsburg State, and in 1962 an M.A. in education at Temple University. In 1978, he attended the Social Development Centre at Emerson College in England, where he was deeply inspired by the work of Rudolf Steiner. Steiner’s Anthroposophy was foundational to Karl’s approach to teaching and the way he lived his life.

Teaching physical education and outdoor leadership was his profession and his passion, which he pursued for more than 40 years, 35 years as professor of physical education at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. His favorite “class” to teach was the New Student Wilderness Orientation that he and his partner/wife, Maggie, led in Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada, for more than 20 years. He also loved whitewater rafting and kayaking and introduced many students to the joys of river running.

Anyone who visited the Antioch College Gym between 1964 and 1999 would remember Karl as a friendly competitor and sports enthusiast. Karl loved and excelled in many sports, with triathlons being one of his specialties. At age 62 he competed in the World Triathlon Championships in Perth, Australia, and at age 70 he won his age group in the Boulder Peak Triathlon. A favorite saying of his was, “If you don’t take care of your body, where will you live?”

Whether running white-water rivers, backpacking in the mountains, inviting people to share their life stories, teaching students to play a variety of sports or engaging in games and initiatives, Karl helped his students and friends to truly meet each other. He fostered caring, respectful communities of genuine mutual interest and trust that inspired mature, collaborative leadership and joy.

Nonjudgmental and positive in his relationships with people, Karl enabled others to feel fully seen and empowered. His gentle humor, a twinkle in the eye and ever-ready smile will be missed by all who knew him.

Karl is survived by his wife, Maggie, their children, Sara (Rony) and Dan (Lindsey), and two children from his previous marriage, Linda (Barry) and David; his sister, Ann; eight grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his two brothers, his ex-wife and a great-grandson.

Karl had a home funeral. His family hopes to be able to gather in Yellow Springs sometime in the next year to celebrate his life. They would welcome any stories, memories and well wishes sent via email to the following address:


6 Responses to “Karl Mahle”

  1. John C. Lamb says:

    Karl was nonjudgemental, friendly, and practical. He made me feel relaxed and positive, and encouraged me play intramural sports. I saw him this way with all students. Rest in peace and thank you.

  2. bert honea says:

    Karl was one of those influential teachers during my years 1970-74 at Antioch. Taking those river trips to the Yough, playing soccer or letting us build kayaks he was a mentor. He gave me the gift of appreciation for the physical life which I maintain to this day.
    A great friend, mentor and all good man.

  3. Patricia Karr-Segal says:

    I remember Karl (and Mark[?] Udall as my guides down the Yoo River for my Phys. Ed. class in Fall 1975. Weaving around us in 4 person rafts (novices all) and guiding us through what seemed to be monstrous rapids, they calmly, sometimes sternly, got us through 2 solid days on the River in late October. It was exhilarating and terrifying to this 18 yo urban Cleveland kid. I think of Karl as a beacon of what is possible when you believe in the ability of your students when the rapids get rough.

  4. Tom Linde says:

    Thank you, Karl, for helping me to launch.

  5. Molly Mettler says:

    Karl was the Joy of the Gym when I attended Antioch. What a grin he had. RIP, Karl.

  6. Carl Christensen says:

    Many fond memories of Karl’s humor, enthusiasm and driving the van with canoe trailer to adventures on local rivers. He made my life better.

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