Service Date March 29, 2017
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Wednesday, March 29th at 11:00 a.m. in the Alfred A. De Simone Gymnasium at U.W. – Parkside, 900 Wood Road. Private interment will take place in Sunset Ridge Memorial Park.
Former U.W. – Parkside Wrestling Coach, James P. Koch, passed away at St. Louis University Hospital in St. Louis, MO after suffering severe injuries from being struck by a car while on a morning run.
Born in Milbank, SD on July 16, 1947, he was captain and all-state center on a state championship football team, but his real love was wrestling, where he got an early start dealing with local bullies and brawlers, at the same time developing a series of moves and hand holds that generally left his opponents tied up, gasping for air, and on the backs. As a high school junior he finally received an outlet for his talents when the local school board authorized a wrestling program. He was captain and MVP of this team and finished 23-1-1 his senior year before moving on to South Dakota State University where he wrestled every match, served as co-captain, and assisted his team to a third-place national finish. After graduating with honors in 1969, Jim became the first wrestling coach at Wisconsin-Parkside in 1970. During his 41 year tenure, he coached 128 All Americans and 80 Academic All-Americans. His teams won 277 dual meet victories and finished in the top 10 at the NCAA II level 23 seasons.
Jim received many coaching awards. In 1971 he was selected rookie national coach of the year by Amateur Wrestling News. He was named Wisconsin/Midwest Regional Coach of the year 10 times. He was inducted into 6 Halls of Fame: NAIA Wrestling, NCAA II Wrestling, U.W.-Parkside, George Martin Wrestling, NAIA District 14 Wrestling and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. In 2003 he earned perhaps his most prestigious honor, receiving the Lifetime Service Award from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Jim also served wrestling in many leadership capacities, serving as presidents of both the NAIA and NCAA II Wrestling Coaches Association, and as chairman of both organizations’ Hall of Fame selection committees. Only two weeks ago the Division II Wrestling Coaches’ Association renamed its hall of fame the Jim Koch Division II Wrestling Hall of Fame. Last year U.W.-Parkside renamed its Wisconsin Open wrestling tournament the Jim Koch Open.
Jim lived in Kenosha for 46 years. His interests included jogging, weight training, picture framing, golden retrievers, Notre Dame Football, and volunteerism. His single-minded passion focused on the 700 men who wrestled for him during his 41 coaching years. His dedication and loyalty to “his men” was foremost in his life. They became his family, and their journeys and his became forever entwined.
Jim is survived by three brothers, Charles (Dorothy) of Milbank, SD, Dan (Betsy) of Sioux Falls, SD and twin, John (Dianne) of St. Cloud, MN; 12 nieces and nephews, their children and grandchildren; and Donna Namath, the love of his life, who became his constant companion and confidante over his last 14 years, and expanded his worldview and enriched his life.
Along with his parents, Floyd and Genevieve Koch, he was preceded in death by his nephew, David Koch and his niece, Becca Sweeney.
Jim was an original and always a friend for life. He will be missed.