Robert Lee Russell Kocher, 90, of The Meth-Wick Community in Cedar Rapids, passed away at the Wood-lands hospice facility Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020. Cedar Memorial Park Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements. Memorial services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 13, at St. Paul's Methodist Church by Pastor Sherrie Ilg. Friends may visit with the family immediately following the service.
Bob was born Dec. 19, 1929, in Jefferson City, Mo., to Rubye Mae Russell and Ernst Johann Kocher. He was married in 1951 to Joan L. Findlay of Jefferson City. He graduated from the University of Missouri and received his B.A. in art and zoology and M.A. in painting. Upon graduating from college, Bob was employed by and served in the Missouri National Guard for four years, reaching the rank of master sergeant. Bob then taught art for four years at Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Mo.
Bob faithfully served and supported Coe College for over 50 years. Bob was recruited to Coe College by art professor Marvin Cone in 1959 and became a full professor in 1971. At Coe, Bob served for many years as chairman of the art Ddpartment, director of the art galleries and curator of the college's permanent art collection. Bob produced a variety of artwork and exhibited widely during his career. Bob and Joan were recipients of the Eliza Hickok Kesler Outstanding Service Award in 2006 and the Distinguished Service Award in 2011. They established the Kocher Visual Arts Endowment, which brings a visiting artist to campus each year and annually supports a prize in art to a Coe student. He co-chaired the Coe Sesquicentennial committee, and for many years he served as the director of the Coe Fine Arts Festival. Bob retired in 1995 as the Marvin D. Cone Professor of Art Emeritus.
For decades, Bob and Joan have been fixtures at Coe concerts, plays, lectures, athletic events, alumni functions and Thursday Forum, often with Bob sporting two ties.
Bob served on committees of the Iowa Arts Council, Cedar Rapids Arts Council, the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art and the Cedar Rapids-Marion Trust for Historic Preservation. He served as director of the Iowa Association of Visual Artists. He was a longtime member of St. Paul's United Methodist Church.
In October 2019, Bob and Joan had a 50-year retrospective art show at the Marvin D. Cone Galleries at Coe College. Because of Bob's love of colorful and crazy ties, everyone attending the celebration was requested to wear two or more ties.
Remarkably Bob and Joan knew each other for over 85 years as next-door neighbors, church members and school mates. At a young age (12 years old) Bob promised to marry Joan but they did not date until Bob graduated from college. They will forever be in love and soul mates.
Bob is survived by wife, Joan; daughters, Terrye Kocher (Pete Gladstein) of Sparks, Nev., and Paula Barnes (Reg) of Atlanta, Ga.; son, Erik Kocher (Linda) of St. Louis, Mo.; grandchildren, Michele Murphy, Nicholas Murphy, Alex Kocher, Ingrid Kocher and Audrey Kocher; brothers-in-law, Dale Findlay and Gary Findlay of Jefferson City, Mo.; and cousin, R.L. Russell (Bonnie) of Cedar Rapids.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Kocher Visual Arts Endowment, c/o Coe College Advancement Services Office, 1220 First Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52402; or online at alumni.coe.edu/makeagift. Please designate your gift to the Kocher Visual Arts Endowment.
The family hopes that when you attend Bob's service in June you will wear at least two colorful and crazy ties!