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Robert Kochtitzky

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Robert Kochtitzky Obituary
Robert Boone Kochtitzky

Okeechobee, FL

Robert Boone Kochtitzky, better known as Bob or "Mr. Bob" to the kids in the neighborhood who couldn't quite handle the last name, passed away peacefully on May 5, 2016 in Okeechobee, FL due to complications of Alzheimer's disease. Not originally from Okeechobee, Bob spent most of his life in Jackson, MS, where he worked tirelessly to better the state and to protect those he felt were being discriminated against or weren't in a position to protect themselves. He was very fond of the quotation from George Bernard Shaw: "You see things; and you say 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say 'Why not?'".

After attending both Millsaps College and Mississippi State University, eventually graduating from MSU with a business degree, he joined the Air Force during the Korean War. Upon completing his military service, he entered seminary at Southern Methodist University and received a Masters of Theological Study.

Returning to Jackson during the height of the civil rights struggle, he started an organization called LAOS or Laymen's Overseas Services to help place volunteers into service projects all over the world. During this time he also served as one of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party "replacement" delegates to the 1968 Democratic National Convention. After his house was bombed by the Klan for his efforts on behalf of the civil rights movement, Bob moved his family and his organization to Baltimore and then Washington, DC. In DC he decided to embark on a new mission, founding a group called Alternatives to highlight the over-commercialization of holidays and celebrations leading to a loss of true meaning in these events. Alternatives published an Alternative Celebrations catalogue designed to highlight new ways to commemorate birthdays, holidays, etc. - from hand-making gifts to donating to charities that were meaningful to those involved in the celebration. The Catalogue eventually saw more than 150,000 copies printed and was featured nationally on the Phil Donahue show.

Bob and his family returned to Jackson in the mid-70's where he founded a series of non-profit organizations aimed at improving the quality of life in Mississippi and throughout the country. The challenges ranged from recycling non-renewable resources to energy efficient building practices. He helped found the city-wide recycling system that is today the current city-run curbside recycling program and was involved in the creation of the city's first Green Habitat House on Central Ave. in Jackson.

In the final phase of his professional life, he began to focus on environmental education issues, particularly those that involved and impacted children. He founded the Mississippi 2020 Network (MS 2020), aimed at deploying 20/20 vision toward those environmental problems likely to damage the world by the year 2020. Under the auspices of MS 2020 he created the EcoScore Program, the Clean, Green, and Healthy Schools Project, and the Our World Discovery Project (later renamed the Growing Good Citizens Project.) He also created the Mississippi Sustainable Futures Awards to highlight the groundbreaking work of other Mississippians. In recognition of these and other efforts to create a safer and healthier environment for Mississippi's children, he was asked to serve on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) National Advisory Committee on Environmental Education.

A lifelong United Methodist, Bob was a member of both Wells and Galloway United Methodist Churches in Jackson. He is survived by his sister, Carolyn Willett; two children, Chris Kochtitzky and Michele Cracchiola; Michele's husband, Joe Cracchiola; and two grandchildren, Gavin and Kenzie. A celebration of his life is being planned for later this summer in Jackson. For those wanting to make memorial gifts, the family is asking that donations be made in Bob's name to any of the following: the Mississippi Center for Justice (, the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science Foundation, 2148 Riverside Drive, Jackson, MS 39202, or the Mississippi Chapter of the , 855 S. Pear Orchard Rd., Suite 501, Ridgeland, MS 38157.
Published in Clarion Ledger on May 11, 2016
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