Bernard Charles Koch, 83, of Yuba City, CA, died peacefully on July 5, 2014, at The Fountains in Yuba City.
Berny was born on August 28, 1930, to Elizabeth and Joseph Koch, Senior, in Beckemeyer, Illinois. Berny and his twin brother (Benedict) were two of thirteen children born to the Koch's. Berny is survived by his brother Ben and sister Marcella Knapp. He was predeceased by his parents and his siblings - Veronica, Cornelia, Joseph, Dorothy, Francis, Beatrice, Anthony, Elizabeth, Alvin, and Charles.
After graduating from high school, Berny joined the United States Air Force
and became an air traffic controller. He was stationed in Alabama, Japan, and California. He met and married his first wife, Pat, and her two daughters (Linda Zall and Donna Burrows) while stationed in California in 1958. He and Pat had two sons (Don and Scott Koch). Berny was subsequently stationed in Indiana, Alaska, Okinawa, Viet Nam, and California. During his tour in Okinawa, Berny was honored in 1968 as the Air Traffic Controller of the Year for the Far East Region. This honor reflected his consummate skill while participating in the development of a complex, heavily trafficked flight region. While serving in Viet Nam, Berny was awarded a medal for his service. After years of moving, Berny and Pat decided to retire in Yuba City, finding the small town feel a welcome alternative to the ever-expanding Sacramento area.
Following his retirement from the Air Force, Berny started the next chapter in his life by working for the Sutter County Sheriff's Department. He began his career there as a dispatcher in the old county jail, often referred to as "the dungeon." While there, he was frequently in contact with the infamous Juan Corona who was subsequently convicted of murdering many farm workers. With the move to the new jail facility in 1983, Berny was promoted to sergeant and continued his work in the jail. With his promotion to lieutenant in 1983, Berny left the jail to become the training officer. In 1984 Berny was named the Exchange Club "Officer of the Year" for the Sutter County Sheriff's Department, an honor conferred on him by his fellow officers.
In 1991, Berny lost Pat to cancer after thirty-three years of marriage. Following his retirement from the Sheriff's Department, he met and married his second wife, Ruth, and the two blended their families.
Berny immensely enjoyed his retirement years as it gave him an opportunity to spend more time doing many of the things he enjoyed. He could relax over his morning coffee while solving the day's crossword puzzle, often in ink, and generally completing the entire puzzle. He had the time to play golf with his many friends, and regardless of the score, a day on the course was a good day. Berny was a great card player, remembering all the cards that had been played and developing strategy based on the cards. His children often lovingly accused him of cheating because he always seemed to win; obviously they hadn't developed his card playing skill. He put his skill to good use by playing poker regularly with his long-time poker buddies and enjoyed the camaraderie found around the table over cards and snacks.
With his retirement, Berny was able to devote more time to his volunteer activities, especially the Early Risers Kiwanis Club of Yuba City. He served in many different leadership positions during his lengthy participation in the club and became a life member in 2013. In addition to Kiwanis, Berny was a volunteer for the American Cancer Society and he and Ruth spent many hours and miles driving patients to Sacramento for treatments prior to the opening of the Cancer Center at Rideout Hospital. Berny was also active in the local Sons in Retirement (SIRs) chapter. Because of their many volunteer activities, Berny and Ruth were recognized by the Appeal Democrat for their contributions in the community. Although they were active in the community, they found time for travel and always enjoyed exploring new places - but always loved coming home.
A humble man, Berny appreciated his good fortune, his good life. The recipient of many awards and much recognition, for him it was always about doing a great job and helping others. His generosity was exhibited in many ways - through his contributions to local and national charities as well as his thoughtfulness of others. One friend remembered lightning striking his home in two different locations at one time, creating a great deal of damage. Berny purchased a side of beef to auction off to help the friend financially. Berny was also known for quietly paying for a veteran's meal when out dining. His random acts of kindness and generosity were never flaunted, always done quietly without regard for recognition.
Berny had a wicked sense of humor and was often the instigator of practical jokes. He was also a great storyteller, always ready with a joke to fit the occasion or lighten the mood. He had wonderful recall and impeccable timing, never flubbing the punch line. Because of his ready smile and ability to connect with people, he made friends easily and kept them for life.
Berny was preceded in death by his second wife, Ruth. He is survived by their children: Linda Zall (Terry), Donna Burrows, Donald Koch, Scott Koch (Jenni), Kate Doscher (Richard), Daniel Vierra (Cathy), Juanita Fochs (Steve), and Diana Nicholson (Nic) as well as numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Rideout Health Foundation or Hands of Hope.
A memorial service will be conducted on Friday, July 18, 2014, at 10:00 a.m. at Sutter Cemetery with military honors under the direction of the Beale Air Force Base Honor Guard. A reception will follow the service at 2050 Irwin Avenue, Sutter. Arrangements are under the direction of Ullrey Memorial Chapel.
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