Holiday World's Bill Koch dies at age 86

Posted Monday, September 17, 2001 7:24 PM | Contributed by Jeff

Bill with wife Pat

Circa 1963

Bill Koch, the "father" of the Holiday World family, died this evening in his home at the age of 86. Koch became involved with the park, then called Santa Claus Land, in 1946 when his father opened it as a retirement project. Among his projects intended to help with the development and enrichment of Southern Indiana, Koch was instrumental in pursuing the federal government to route I-64 through Southern Indiana and recently became involved in the expansion of US route 231. He was also a central figure in the development of Santa Claus, Indian, incorporated in 1967.

Bill and Will

Koch is survived by his wife Pat and son Will (president of Holiday World), two of the most public figures at the park, as well as Dr. Kristi Koch George, an Indianapolis neurologist; Dan, an attorney in Miami, Florida; Philip, the general manager of Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort and Kringle Place; and Natalie, who is currently working on her MBA degree at Purdue University. The W.A. Kochs have eight grandchildren.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made to the W.A. Koch Family Fund, which is part of the Spencer County Community Foundation.

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Monday, September 17, 2001 7:27 PM
Jeff's avatar If you've ever been to an enthusiast event at the park, you know that Holiday World has a family atmosphere in a way you've never experienced before. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Koch family.

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Monday, September 17, 2001 7:40 PM
Indeed, Jeff.  The Kochs are special people, and they are a BIG part of what makes Holiday World so great.  My prayers go out to the Koch family.
- Peabody
Monday, September 17, 2001 8:07 PM
I'm very saddened to hear about Mr Koch's passing.  The Koch family is in my prayers.  I'm also very sad that I was never able to meet such a person as Mr. Koch.  The family really is a gem in the amusement park industry.  My deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends. 
Monday, September 17, 2001 8:12 PM
I'm very sorry to hear about this as well.  My prayers go out to Pat and the rest of the Koch family.
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Monday, September 17, 2001 8:37 PM
Raven-Phile's avatar This, for some reason brings tears to my eyes. I always hate to hear when something like this happens. Even though i'm 5+ hours away, this hits very close to home. The Koch's are wonderful people. They are in my thoughts and prayers.



Monday, September 17, 2001 8:44 PM
I have never even been to Holiday World, but the fine reputation that this park has earned for itself has made me really interested in visiting.
Mr. Koch seemed to me like the ideal person to run a park.
In a sense, he was to Holiday World what Walt Disney was to Disneyland.

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Monday, September 17, 2001 8:47 PM
The koch's are the perfect examples of class and compassion that is just usually not exhibited in the Amuement park industry. They brought a warm and touching atmoshpere to the park. you could just tell the park is run with such care and respect. Bill will be forever missed and i offer my condolensces to his wife, Pat.
Monday, September 17, 2001 9:15 PM
My condolences go out to the Koch family.  They're wonderful people with a wonderful park.  My thoughts will be with them in the coming days.

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Monday, September 17, 2001 10:31 PM
If you've never been to Holiday World, the above comments are a guide to the warm and friendly nature of the Koch family.  My only trip to their wonderful park was during 2001 SRM event, and I can honestly say I've never felt like a GUEST at any other park the way I did there.  My heartfelt condolences to Pat and Will, and to the staff at HW.  Honestly, in every aspect, a "family" park...
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Tuesday, September 18, 2001 4:21 AM
My condolences to the family of one of the last great family-run parks.  The world needs more Mr. Koch's.
Tuesday, September 18, 2001 6:35 AM
I've never met Mr. Koch, but I've heard so many good things about his life and his park. My heart goes out to his family, for I know he will be truly missed.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2001 12:18 PM
I have never met Mr. Koch either, but I have been to his park. If he is a man just like his park, than I am sure sorry for the Koch family. This is a rough time for them and my prayers go out to their family.
Ricochet: Bouncing to you in 2002, Only at King's Dominion!
Tuesday, September 18, 2001 1:43 PM
My heart goes to everyone in the family and at the park........they have forever changed my expectations of a theme park. Thank you Bill for such a wonderful place.......
This really is a GREAT America
Tuesday, September 18, 2001 3:12 PM
Never been to Holiday World but thank you for bringing Santa Claus to Santa Claus, IN. You created a wonderful place for families to take their children.

Thanks Santa

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Wednesday, September 19, 2001 1:42 AM
john peck's avatar I have never met Bill personally, but the effect the park and the Koch family had on me was amazing. These are such wonderful people, they are caring, loving and gentle.

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