Photo of C.B. Kern THE CARL B. KERN FUND
of The Dayton Foundation

established 1987

1401 S. Main Street, Suite 100  *  Dayton, OH 45409
(937) 222-0410  * * *  FAX: (937) 222-0636

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Godfrey Albert Doeller, II and Pete's Tower
posted March 26, 2023; updated March 27, 2023

        Pete's Tower is an iconic landmark at YMCA Camp Kern - a year-round go-to destination that provides beautiful views of the Little Miami River valley from the top of the 40-foot steel tower. Constructed in 1954, it was the vision of G.A. 'Pete' Doeller, who "pledged a tower from which camp visitors might better observe the wonders of nature." [clipping]

        As preparations for Camp Kern's 1985 75th Anniversary were underway in the early 1980's, Pete filled out an alumni card dated April 12, 1983, listing his occupation at the time as "Retired? Eating and sleeping." [card]. He passed away just a few months later at the age of 97 [clipping]. And though on the card he listed his associations with camp as "Camper, "Camp Committee", and "Doner [sic] of Tower @ Pete's Point", his impact on camp and the lives of Dayton-area youth was so much more...

        Godfrey Albert Doeller, II was born September 11, 1886 in Hamilton, Ohio. His father, a well-known successful businessman who ran a drug store in Hamilton, tragically passed away in May, 1893 when 'Pete' was only six years old. [clipping].

        G.A. Doeller went on to graduate from the University of Cincinnati in 1908 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering [clipping]. By 1911 he was working with the Dayton Light & Power Co. A newspaper article highlighted a presentation he gave at a convention of the Ohio Electric Light Association in July, 1911 entitled "Boulevard Lighting Systems" [clipping]. In 1917 he married Cincinnati-native Aline McGuire, who became a well-known local singer/soloist, performing at venues like the Dayton Art Institute with the Dayton Philharmonic orchestra. Sadly she passed away from pneumonia in 1934 at age 37, leaving two children ages 12 and 8 [clipping].

        A [letter] received in 1985 related to camp's 75th Anniversary included pictures that Pete Doeller had taken of Camp Kern in 1923 - a couple of which were reprinted in the history section of the Spring 1985 Tower [clipping]. Pete would have been nearly 37 years old that summer. A Men's Camp was held at Camp Kern in 1923, and it's likely that Pete was a "camper" at this camp. We know that Pete signed up to attend the Men's Camp in 1925 [clipping] (along with Robert C. Neff).

        Mr. Doellers's continued involvement with the the Dayton YMCA is documented as a member of the Boys Work Committee in 1931, chaired at the time by Edward L. Kohnle [clipping]. For several years starting in 1932 he chaired the Camping subcomittee [clipping]. He continued on the Boys Work Committee for over 2 decades, including the transition year in 1957 when Camp Kern became its own branch of the Dayton YMCA and Mr. Doeller served as one of its original Board Members.

        When Gene Sells was announced as the Camp Kern director in 1953, a newspaper article noted that "Currently underway ... is the 'Pete's Point' project, a lookout spot financed by G.A. Doeller, to be used for vesper services and devotional periods." [clipping]

        Finally, on August 17, 1954, a Lookout Tower on Pete's Point was erected, documented by the Dayton Daily News with several photographs by Homer Hacker and a short article [clipping]. A newspaper column in 1962 continued to refer to the structure as the "Lookout Tower at Pete's Point" and not yet as "Pete's Tower" [clipping].

        'Pete' was a hiker, and he and his second wife Margaret were featured in a 1961 article as members of the Skyline Trail Hikers of the Canadian Rockies. He was 75 years old at the time [clipping].

        We thank 'Pete' Doeller for his dedication to Dayton YMCA camping and his foresight in creating such a memorable destination that has been and will be enjoyed by generations of Camp Kern visitors.