The elegant style did not last. After Frederick’s sister Mary died October 3, 1908, the family traveled to Europe. Adele Verge was hired to work as a lady’s maid for Frederick’s mother, but her actions became increasingly hostile. After Frederick had Adele arrested for her irregular and bizarre behavior, Adele sued him. Leaving a San Francisco court after she lost her case, Adele shot Frederick as he emerged from the elevator on June 8, 1911. Fortunately, the bullet just missed his heart. Although she was deported to France, she was determined to get revenge. Frederick was haunted for the rest of his life by the fear that Adele would return to finish the job.

The marriage suffered, and the Kohls separated in 1916. Bessie went to France to sing for the troops and Frederick moved to the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. After suffering a stroke, he and his mistress Marion Louderback Lord went to the Del Monte Lodge on the Monterey Peninsula. His convalescence seemed to be going well. Yet a scant month later, on Nov. 23, 1921 he shot himself.

Written by: Liz Dossa, Sister Marilyn Gouailhardou, RSM and Catherine Wilkinson