John Charles Koch passed away late Friday night, Oct. 26, 2018, at the age of 72 from a pulmonary embolism. He was a loving husband, father, and grandfather, who appreciated the small pleasures in life — an ice-cold Coke, a moving musical number, or even a good butter cookie could elicit expressions of immense gratitude and satisfaction.
John was born in Britton, S.D., on Aug. 22, 1946, to Charles Lyle “Bud” and Edith (Greeno) Koch, and spent his childhood in Britton and Aberdeen, S.D. He went on to get his BA from Northern State University, his MA from the University of South Dakota and his PhD in Theatre Directing and History from the University of Nebraska.
He met his wife, Cheryl Preheim, on a blind date while at USD. They were engaged one month later and married on Aug. 12, 1971. John began his college administration career at Miles Community College in Miles City, Mont., where he served as Dean of College Services.
In 1987, the Koch family left Miles City and moved to Sioux Falls, S.D., where John became President of Colleges of Mid-America. After three years in that position he became the Associate Dean of Faculty for Community Services at Sullivan County Community College in Loch Sheldrake, N.Y. In 1993, the family returned to South Dakota to care for aging family.
John became an employee of the USD Sanford School of Medicine, where he worked for more than 20 years as a grants writer and administrator, until his death. His work led to millions of dollars being brought to the state and the establishment of the USD South Dakota Research Foundation, which eventually became Sanford Research.
John was passionate about musical theatre and directed dozens of musicals spanning his entire adult life. While he led numerous one-off shows in venues around the country, he dedicated many years to the Barn Players in Miles City. In 1989, he directed his first Schmeckfest and fell in love with the people of Freeman.
And subsequently, in 2010, John and Cheryl built a home in the community. At the time of his passing, John was proud to hold the record for most Schmeckfest musicals directed. (We’ve got our eye on you, Tim!)
Patient, dedicated, and always the idealist, John knew just how to bring the right people together and work with passion and non-judgment to make the world a better place — one seemingly far-fetched endeavor at a time.
He is survived by his wife, Cheryl Preheim Koch; his daughters and their families: Kristin Koch and Michael Irving, and Laura, Justin, and August Gray; his brother and sister-in-law, Ken and Lynda Koch; his in-laws Greg and Theresa Preheim and Patricia Batcheller; and his nieces and nephews: Heath and Ash Preheim and Jill and Jay Batcheller. He was preceded in death by his parents; his in-laws Mylo and Dorothy (Jensen) Preheim; and two brothers-in-law, Lee Michael Preheim and Harry Batcheller.
So, sports fans, let’s all raise a glass to life well lived.