Former parks director Ron Koch dies at 72

Ronald Grant "Papa" Koch, 72, who served as Wrangell Parks and Recreation director 1986-1997, died May 4 at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City.

In addition to his time in Wrangell, he worked as director of parks and recreation for cities in South Carolina and Washington state. Ron loved photography, fishing (even though he was a terrible fisherman, his family said), playing golf and was an avid swimmer. He participated in the 1968 Olympic trials in swimming.

He loved spending time with family and friends, especially his grandson, Jenks. "He was a mentor to so many people," the family wrote. He trained Olympic athletes in swimming, volunteered in his community in a variety of ways and was a former swimming coach for the University of Washington.

Ron was born March 23, 1949, in Denver, Colorado, a son of Alfred and Anna (Meier) Koch. He earned a bachelor's degree from Western Colorado University, where he was a Hall of Fame inductee. He married Kathleen Darou on March 14, 1970, in Fairbanks. They have celebrated 51 years of marriage.

Funeral services will be 11 a.m. Monday at Halligan-McCabe-DeVries Funeral Home, Davenport, Iowa. The family will greet friends from 10 a.m. Monday until the time of the service at the funeral home. Pandemic protocols must be maintained.

Memorials may be made to the National Park Service or the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Disease.

Those left to honor Ron's memory include his wife, Kathy; children: Peter (Angela) Koch, and Sasha (Gary) Rowland, all of Davenport; grandson and best friend, Jenks Rowland; siblings: Jerry (Janet) Koch, of Wellington, Nevada, and Marvin (Donna) Koch, of Centerville, Ohio. He was preceded in death by his parents and a nephew, Eric Koch.

Online remembrances may be expressed at


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