Please remember David Koch in your prayers. He was a St. Thomas graduate, a longtime member of the university’s Board of Trustees, and a generous friend and benefactor to the university.
A Wayzata resident, Koch died at age 84 on Jan. 1. A Mass of Christian Burial was held at 11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 9, at the Church of St. Bartholomew, 630 E. Wayzata Blvd., Wayzata. Visitation was held at the church from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 8.
A 1948 graduate of Wayzata High School, he attended the University of Notre Dame from 1948 to 1951 on a football scholarship. He played on Notre Dame’s 1949 undefeated national football championship team before transferring to St. Thomas, where he was a standout pitcher. He graduated in 1952 with a business administration degree.
After serving as a lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, he worked at Kalman & Co. and then joined Graco Inc., a Minneapolis-based manufacturer of pumps and spray equipment. He spent the next 45 years there and was its president and CEO from 1962 to 1996. He retired as chairman of Graco’s board in 2001.
Koch served on the St. Thomas board from 1978 to 2006 and was very active helping Monsignor Terrence Murphy and Father Dennis Dease shape the growth of the university in the 1980s and 1990s.
He was a member of St. Thomas’ Center for Catholic Studies board and served as its founding chair. He chaired the university’s Century II capital campaign from 1984 to 1991, which raised $83 million. At the time it the most successful private-college fundraising effort in Minnesota history.
Gifts from Dave and his wife, Barbara, to St. Thomas included:
- Koch Endowed Chair in Business Ethics (1989);
- founders of the Minneapolis campus (1992);
- an endowed chair and an endowed scholarship fund, both in Catholic Studies (1995);
- Koch Commons (1998);
- Koch Diamond (artificial turf on the St. Thomas baseball field (2006);
- Sitzmann Hall expansion (2009).
Dave and Barbara also were benefactors of the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity, where they established a Scholar in Residence Program in 2008.
Dave received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the St. Thomas Alumni Association in 1981, and Barbara and Dave both received the St. Thomas Distinguished Service Award in 1985.
They were featured in the 2009 book, 125 Years: A Look at Interesting and Influential People in the History of St. Thomas. They were lauded as “the source of benefactions that have enhanced the university’s academics, student life and Catholic educational mission,” and Barbara once explained their generosity to St. Thomas and nonprofit groups this way: “Our treasures are a gift from God. Since God has entrusted us … we need to be good stewards. We feel deeply about our responsibility to make these gifts count.”
“Every time I get a chance to speak to a St. Thomas MBA class or to a Law School class to share my philosophy on business, I tell them to remember that businesses exist to serve a wide variety of people and not just satisfy the shareholders,” Dave said in a 2005 interview published in Perspectives magazine. The full interview can be found here.
Koch is survived by his wife, Barbara; children, Leil, Kaylin, Eann and Stephen; a sister, Judy; and many grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
Memorials are preferred to St. Thomas’ Center for Catholic Studies, the St. Thomas-based Center for Ethical Business Cultures, and the Minnesota Historical Society.
More information also can be found in his newspaper obituary.