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HARRY "BUD", 84
Gainesville - Harry Kocher of Gainesville passed away on April 14, 2014. Earlier this year, he had been diagnosed with cancer for the second time, after beating the disease a decade ago.
Known since his childhood as "Bud", he was born to Ruth and Cecil Kocher on December 7, 1929 in Ellwood City, Pennsylvania. He grew up outside of Pittsburg, where he enlisted in the Navy at the outset of the Korean War. He was assigned to one of the first jet squadrons in the U.S. Navy, Attack Squadron VF-12 and acted as a plane captain primarily aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Roosevelt, CV-42. His ship's homeport was Mayport and his squadron was based at Cecil Field in Jacksonville. He received several commendations during his 4 year tenure in the Navy, and always spoke with great fondness of the many experiences that "made him a man."
While stationed in Pensacola for training, he met his wife to be, Norma Dowdy. They were faithfully married for 63 years until her passing in 2012. He missed her dearly. As a young married couple in Pensacola, they proudly had two sons, Joel and Jay. After leaving the Navy, Harry joined the Rhodes Furniture Company, where he excelled as their consistently top store manager for almost 38 years. After highly successful managerial stints in Pensacola and Ft. Walton Beach, Harry took on the failing Gainesville store in 1971. In just 6 months, he transformed it into one of the company's top performing stores despite being in a small market. He engendered adoration and loyalty from his employees, and was a highly effective leader. Year after year, he declined promotions in order to remain in Gainesville so as not to disrupt the lives of his family. To his last hour, his family was always the primary purpose of his life.
Harry loved sports. He was the President of the 1975 Gainesville High School Tipoff Club. His two sons proudly played for the Purple Hurricanes. He was an avid golfer, and often played at area courses. Though he made light of it, he scored an ace hole in one at West End a decade ago. He was also an avid Gator fan and supporter of UF Athletics. For the last forty years, he could be seen at Florida Field on game day.
He was a caring, attentive Father and profoundly loved his family. He always set the highest standards for his children, and did everything he could to provide them with every opportunity to succeed. On every dimension, he always put his family first making numerous sacrifices for them along the way. He was simply the greatest of fathers, and his two sons adored him. He also shared his wife's love of animals, and would never turn away any stray. To know him was to instantly like him. And there was not a quicker wit around.
He is survived by his son Joel and daughter-in-law AnnMarie of Austin, Texas, by son Jay Kocher and daughter-in-law Pam of Gainesville, by grandsons Chase, Jake and Ian all of Austin and sister-in-law Dolores Laico of Greenville S.C.
There will be no service held locally, but in June a service will be held in the National Cemetery for Veterans in Jacksonville, near Cecil Field, where he and his wife Norma will together permanently lay to rest. You may contact Jay or Joel Kocher at
in order to obtain the service information once it is arranged.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that a donation be made to the Puppy Farm Rescue. Please send a check or money order with a note stipulating "In honor of Harry and Norma Kocher's compassion for animals", to:
Puppy Farm Rescue
P.O. Box 1743
Melrose, Florida 32666
Arrangements are in the care of Forest Meadows Funeral Home (352)378-2528. An online guestbook is available for condolences at
Forest Meadows Funeral Home and Cemeteries
725 NW 23rd Avenue
Gainesville, FL 32609
Published in Gainesville Sun from Apr. 20 to Apr. 21, 2014