Catholic philanthropist remembered for integrity in business, generosity to Church

| January 9, 2015 | 0 Comments
David Koch

David Koch

Faith in God, not altruistic ideals, shaped the life of Wayzata business leader and philanthropist David Koch, Father Michael Van Sloun said at his funeral Mass Jan. 9. The retired Graco Inc. chief executive officer and board chairman died Jan. 1 at age 84.

Father Van Sloun lauded Koch for the care he showed Graco’s employees, customers and shareholders, and his generosity to a range of civic and charitable organizations, including several with Catholic ties.

With his wife, Barbara, Koch was a benefactor of the College of St. Benedict, Pacem in Terris retreat center, St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity, the University of St. Thomas, and their parish, St. Bartholomew in Wayzata, where the funeral was held.

“The word of God guided their marriage, guided their family and guided all their business dealings, too,” said Father Van Sloun, St. Bartholomew’s pastor, who presided at Koch’s funeral Mass.

David Koch graduated from Wayzata High School in 1948 and attended the University of Notre Dame on a football scholarship for three years. He was a member of the university’s 1949 undefeated national football championship team. He transferred to St. Thomas and graduated in 1952 with a business administration degree.

Koch served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force and worked in securities before joining Graco, a pump and spray equipment manufacturer founded by Barbara’s father and uncle, Leil and Russell Gray. He spent 45 years at Graco, serving as its president and CEO from 1962 to 1996. He was board chairman at his retirement in 2001.

Married for 59 years, the Koches focused their charitable giving on “building the Church,” Father Van Sloun said.

Koch served on St. Thomas’ board of trustees from 1978 to 2006, and, according to the university, “was very active helping [former university presidents] Msgr. Terrence Murphy and Father Dennis Dease shape the growth of the university in the 1980s and 1990s.”

Koch was a co-founder of the university’s Center for Catholic Studies and contributed to several building projects. The Koches also established the university’s Koch Endowed Chair in Business Ethics and the Center for Ethical Business Cultures.

David Koch served on numerous boards and sought to “advance the principles of character and integrity in business,” Father Van Sloun said. He also contributed to DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis, the Minnesota Historical Society and several faith-based organizations that serve people in need.

Koch is survived by his wife, four children and eight grandchildren.

Concelebrating Koch’s funeral Mass were Msgr. Aloysius Callaghan, rector of St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity; Father Timothy Dolan, pastor of St. William in Fridley; Father Timothy Nolan, chairman of the board of Pacem in Terris; and Father Michael Reding, pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle in Minneapolis.

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Category: Obituaries