Obituary: Bob Koch
Dr. Robert M “Bob” Koch passed away peacefully on March 10, 2016. Bob was born in Sioux City, Iowa May 15, 1924 to William F. Koch and Geneva Elizabeth Koch. He had an older brother Bill Jr., now deceased. Their mother, Geneva, passed away when they were 11 and 14 years old. Later, their father married Marian Tait and after several years, a little sister, Susan, was born. He grew up in Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oregon and Montana, graduating from Billings Senior High School in 1942.
He enlisted in the Army during WWII after a semester of college. After basic training, Bob was assigned to the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) in Stephenville, Texas. The ASTP offered fast track degree programs for bright young recruits. Because of the heavy casualties during D-Day, ASTP was disbanded and he was assigned to the rifle companies of the 99th Infantry Division, Company E, 2nd Battalion, 395th Regiment. In Europe, he participated in the Battle of the Bulge and received many medals and awards including a Bronze Star. He attended the first Officer Candidate School in Europe (Paris) and left the service as a 1st Lieutenant in 1946. Bob enjoyed attending many reunions of the 99th Infantry Division, including one in Krinkelt, Belgium, where the local people unveiled a monument honoring the 99th and held a reception in their honor.
Bob married his high school sweetheart, Virginia Terrett, in July 1946 and then returned to college. He graduated from Montana State University with a degree in Animal Science in 1948 and then received his Master’s Degree (1950) and Ph.D. (1953) from Iowa State University. He joined the Animal Science Department faculty of the University of Nebraska in 1950. His career with the University included serving as Superintendent at the Fort Robinson Beef Cattle Research Station, Crawford, NE., consultant at the University of Nebraska Mission in Columbia South America, and Chairman of the Animal Science Department (7years). In 1966, Bob returned to research full time and in 1972 moved to the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, Nebraska. There he along with L.V. Cundiff and K.E. Gregory launched the Germ Plasm Evaluation Program, the largest genetic beef cattle research project to date. The program was designed to characterize diverse cattle breeds and their utilization in alternative crossbreeding systems. Bob also directed a 25-year project initiated in 1960 to study effects of selection for growth traits and muscle score in a closed line of Hereford cattle. He wrote and published his last research at the age of 80 in the Journal of Animal Science. He received many research awards including the Animal Breeding and Fellow Awards from the American Society of Animal Science and Pioneer award from the Beef Improvement Federation. In 1989, Beef Magazine named the team of R.M. Koch, K.E. Gregory, and L.V. Cundiff as part of the 25 who made a difference to the beef industry during the preceding 25 years. In 2001, the team received an “Architect of Cattle Breeding Award” at the Cattlemen’s Reunion in Billings, Montana. Bob’s research contributions are documented in more than 150 refereed scientific publications. He made numerous invited presentations at scientific meetings and beef industry meetings in the U.S. and in other countries, including Argentina, Australia, New Zealand Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Spain, the United Kingdom, France, and Canada.
In 2012, The American Society of Animal Science Foundation started the Cundiff, Dickerson, Gregory, Koch, Van Vleck Appreciation Club. This endowment provides funding to symposium speakers in beef cattle breeding at Annual Meetings and graduate students to travel to the World Congresses on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production.
His hobbies included gardening and woodworking and hunting. His grandchildren loved to visit and help him pick the ripe vegetables. In the summer, their dinner table included a freshly arranged summer bouquet of flowers from Grandmother Virginia’s flower garden and fresh vegetables from Granddad Bob’s garden. Each visit also included a trip to the University or Research Center to see the cattle involved in his research studies.
Bob has a loving family; his wife, Virginia, passed away in 1996 after almost 50 years of marriage. He is survived by his sister, Susan (Brooke) Henderson of Billings, Montana; 3 sons William (Jean) of Colorado Springs, CO, James (Mary) of Arvada Colorado, Richard of Yuma, Arizona; 8 grandchildren Trenton Koch, Justin (Michele) Koch, Katie (John) Burney, Brandon (Tracy) Koch, Brian Koch, Lindsay (Russell) Ettinger, Carrie Koch, and Jared Koch, 8 great-grandchildren, and nieces and nephews.
He is also survived by his wife of 18 years, Mary Jane Huxtable-Koch, and her children Tom (Denise) Huxtable, Paul (Cindy) Huxtable, Anne (Tom) Scates, and Jean (Dan) Hamersky and their families. Mary Jane has 11 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren. Bob spent many summers with Mary Jane and her family at her cottage in Lake City, Michigan.
Bob moved to Morning Star Senior Living at Mountain Shadows in Colorado Springs two years ago to be near his sons, daughters-in-law, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He loved scenic drives through the mountains along with many family dinners and celebrations. The family wishes to thank the amazing people at Morning Star at Mountain Shadows that have made his life so enjoyable and meaningful. They called him “our gentle giant”. The family also thanks the Suncrest Hospice for their wonderful support. Bob’s ashes will be placed with his beloved, Virginia, in the columbarium at Holy Trinity Church in Lincoln, Nebraska, and also next to his beloved Mother, Geneva, in Sioux City, Iowa, where he wanted his marker engraved “Loving Son of Geneva.”
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Cundiff, Dickerson, Gregory, Koch, Van Vleck (CDGKV) Appreciation Club, with The American Society of Animal Science Foundation (asas.org) (217-356-9050) or the Nebraska Alzheimer’s Association. Please notify the organization that the donation is in memory of Dr. Robert M. Koch.
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