David Koch, the conservative billionaire who has died, was one of a pair of controversial brothers. They are commonly known as the “Koch Brothers.” He had other lesser-known siblings, though, and he also leaves behind a wife and three children.
Koch Industries wrote on its website that David Koch, the “longtime stockholder, director, and leader in Koch Industries, passed away on August 23, 2019 at age 79 after many years of fighting various illnesses.” The company described David Koch as “an all-American athlete. A chief executive officer. A U.S. vice-presidential candidate. A cancer fighter. A plane crash survivor. An extremely generous philanthropist. From a Kansan to a New Yorker. A devoted husband. A proud father.”
He was part of the pair of brothers who also earned scorn on the left for their funding of conservative political causes.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Koch’s Older Brother Says He Will ‘Never Be Forgotten
It fell to the other famous Koch brother to confirm David Koch’s death. Charles Koch said in a statement that David Koch would be “greatly missed, but never forgotten,” NBC News reported.
He had previously shared with Koch Industries that his New York-based brother was in failing health, writing, “We are deeply saddened by this, as we miss David’s insightful questions and his many contributions to Koch Industries.”
2. David Koch Was Married to Wife Julia, a Former Assistant to a Fashion Designer
David Koch was married to wife Julia Flesher Koch. Observer describes her as “a former assistant to the fashion designer Adolfo Dominguez, whom he wed in 1996.” According to New York Magazine, Julia was “the attractive blonde daughter of an Arkansas junk dealer” and “he was 50, she was 27” when they married.
When she worked for Adolfo, Julia actually occasionally dressed Nancy Reagan “in her famous knit suits,” the magazine article reports.
In 1998, New York Times Magazine described Julia Koch as “a young woman of manners and social ambition from Conway, Ark., much admired in her Upper East Side circle for marrying one of the richest men in America.” At the time she was 34.
An ex-girlfriend Cindy Farkas Glanzrock told the Observer that Koch liked having women around in his early days but didn’t discuss politics with them. Julia has done charity work; for example, she was co-chair of the Met’s annual Costume Institute Gala.
3. David Koch Had Three Children With Julia Koch & Described Himself as ‘Devoted as a Choir Boy’ to Her
According to a profile in New York Times Magazine, David Koch had three children with wife Julia: David Jr., Mary Julia, and John Mark.
David Koch told New York Times Magazine that he was “devoted as a choir boy” to his wife. The profile described how David Koch liked to wrestle with his kids on the ground.
However, some of the next generation talk has fallen instead on Charles Koch’s son Chase Koch. A 2018 Politico article reported that David Koch’s children were all under age 25.
4. David Koch’s Dad, Fred Koch, Thought David Would Become an Engineer & His Mother Was Involved in the Arts
David Koch was born David Hamilton Koch. David Koch was born to on May 3, 1940, to Fred and Mary Koch. According to the Fred and Mary Koch foundation, Mary Clementine Robinson “was the daughter of a Kansas City, Missouri, surgeon who also served as a professor at the University of Kansas School of Medicine.” She later became heavily involved in the arts community.
Fred had high hopes for the younger Koch son. “David is very quick in mind and body. He is a natural athlete and very practical. If any of the kids becomes an engineer, I think it will be he,” he said, according to a Koch Industries biography.
Fred Koch, according to a Foundation bio in his name, “decided to attend Houston’s Rice Institute in 1917. He joined the Engineering Society and was elected class president his sophomore year. In 1919, he left Rice to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he became one of the first students to obtain a degree in Chemical Engineering Practice.”
It was Fred who started the company that would grow into Koch Industries. “He moved to Wichita, Kansas, in 1925 and joined MIT classmate, P.C. Keith, at Keith-Winkler Engineering Company. The firm was later renamed Keith-Winkler-Koch Engineering Company,” the bio explains. “Following the departure of Keith in 1925, the firm became Winkler-Koch Engineering Company. In 1940, Fred Koch co-founded the Wood River Oil and Refining Co., Inc., the predecessor of Koch Industries, Inc. By 1961, the company’s name had been changed to Rock Island Oil & Refining Co., Inc., and the company was later renamed Koch Industries, Inc., in his honor.”
Mary Koch was “known to express her love of the arts through drawing and painting, Mrs. Koch was also an accomplished silversmith. She married Fred Chase Koch in 1932,” says the bio.
5. There Were Actually More Koch Brothers
Charles and David Koch are the famous Koch brothers. But there were more. The family bio says that David was “the third of four brothers—Frederick, the oldest; Charles, chairman and CEO, Koch Industries; and William, his fraternal twin.”
Fred was wealthy but he didn’t want his sons to become “country club bums,” so they worked.
“David attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering. David was captain of the basketball team and a small college all-American,” the company biography says.
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