Donald L. Koch's life will be celebrated on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016, at North Hickory Hill Park in Iowa City, Iowa. The Reverend Kyle Otterbein will officiate the service, which begins at 3 p.m. Visitations will be at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. before and after the service. Don died surrounded by family after an 8 1/2-year courageous battle with multiple myeloma.
Don is survived by his wife of 54 years, (Celia) Jean Koch; one son, Kyle Koch (Laura), West Des Moines, Iowa; one daughter, Amy Polacek (Scott), Milwaukee, Wis.; grandchildren, Brandon, Ryan, Maddyson, Karina and Olivia; brothers, Robert, Memphis, Mo., and Richard (Jolene), Manchester, Iowa; sisters, Sharon McGraw, Raleigh, N.C., and Dianne O'Brien, Manchester, Iowa; sister-in-law, Sylvia Swede, Rochester, Minn.; and brother-in-law, Benjamin Swede (Cindi), Hot Springs Village, Ark.
Don was preceded in death by his son, Nathan Koch.
Don was born in Dubuque, Iowa, on June 3, 1937. His family moved to Manchester when he was 7 years old. He attended grade school at St. Xavier and high school at Manchester High School. After receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in geology from the University of Iowa in 1959, Don began work with the Iowa Geological Survey as a laboratory technician and then a research geologist. He advanced through a series of promotions, including Chief, Subsurface Geology, Assistant State Geologist, Acting State Geologist, State Geologist and Director, and State Geologist and Bureau Chief. While working full time, Don completed his Master of Science in geology and subsequently completed courses toward a Ph.D. His research responsibilities and publications at the Iowa Geological Survey included paleontology, stratigraphy, groundwater hydrology, coal geology, oil exploration and underground storage of natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas. He led the state's scientific exploration of Coldwater Cave in Winneshiek County.
Don was a member of the American Association of State Geologists, the Iowa Academy of Science, the Geological Society of Iowa (president), the Iowa Groundwater Association (founding member and president) and Society of the Sigma Xi.
Don was a bicycling enthusiast, delivering The Cedar Rapids Gazette in his early years, and commuting to work throughout most of his career. Don rode in 29 of the Des Moines Register's RAGBRAI treks across Iowa, and rode eight times to the start of RAGBRAI on Iowa's "West Coast" with a few friends. In 1995, Don rode the 5,048-mile jaunt from Long Beach, Calif., to Washington, D.C., organized by the Des Moines Register, with 307 other riders, to promote celebration of Iowa's 1996 sesquicentennial. Several riders from that group held a 10th anniversary ride in 2005, travelling about 1,656 miles from New Orleans to International Falls, Minn.
He will be missed tremendously by his family, but they are comforted in knowing he is now with his son, Nathan, and his spirit will always be with them.