Barbara Jo Sawyer-Koch
Okemos - Barbara Jo Sawyer-Koch, 72, passed away peacefully at home with family by her side on March 6 following a short but mighty fight with pancreatic cancer. Barb was born in Menominee, MI on December 7, 1948 to Richard and Muriel Sawyer. She graduated from Menominee High School in 1967.
Barb began her lifelong love for education, politics and travel when she attended Alma College where she earned a degree in Political Science. She later earned a Master's of Public Administration from Michigan State University. She also spent a year at the University of Vienna while at Alma.
Barb served as Menominee County Treasure and then moved on to become the Director of Strategic Planning, Department of Treasury for the State of Michigan, retiring in 2000. She also served as a trustee for Michigan State University. In 1993 Barb met and married Donald Koch, a Professor of Philosophy at MSU. Together they shared a love of jazz and travel. In their retirement they traveled around the world and visited all the continents. They witnessed the impact of climate change. They committed their resources to creating multiple endowments at MSU supporting global sustainability. Their love for MSU knew no bounds as they endowed scholarships, built a music practice room for the music department and worked tirelessly for other campus projects.
Barb impacted many, many lives. From her arrival in East Lansing she hosted international students seeking advance degrees. She worked for the international students on campus through the MSU Community Volunteers for International Programs. She helped run a lending center for international students that provided them with basic necessities after their arrival. She was also a founder of the Age Alive program for senior citizens, a part of the College of Osteopathic Medicine. Barb was active in the Zonta Club of East Lansing, the Torch Club as well as the MSU Alumni association.
Barb is survived by her son Will (Anna) Koch, daughter Leah (Mike) Ransom, granddaughter Ava Koch, brother Chip (Susan) Sawyer, sister Susan Plimpton and many nieces and nephews. She will be missed by her extended international family, especially JaeMin Cha and James Kim and their daughters SeoHee and SaeAh.
A celebration of Barb's life will be held at a later date. Donations to the Department of Human Medicine for Alzheimer's research or the Department of Music honoring Barb can be made to Michigan State University, 535 Chestnut Rd. Room 300, East Lansing, MI 48824
Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.greastlansing.com
for the Sawyer-Koch family.