Photo provided Doug Koch was instrumental in bringing the World Barefoot Championships to Fergus Falls in 2000, which drew about 30,000 spectators.
Photo provided
Doug Koch was instrumental in bringing the World Barefoot Championships to Fergus Falls in 2000, which drew about 30,000 spectators.

Archived Story

‘How do you put it in words?’ Local ski enthusiast remembered as active, passionate

Published 11:30am Wednesday, July 16, 2014 Updated 11:31am Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Doug and Pat Koch recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary with a Bachman & Turner concert at Shooting Star Casino. Now less than a month later, Pat is dealing with the unexpected loss of her husband.

“How do you put it in words? How do you describe him? I’m kind of at a loss,” Pat said.

Koch, 62, died Saturday after he was pulled from Ten Mile Lake. He was found unresponsive in the water near his home.

A St. Paul native, Koch moved to Fergus Falls in 1983 where he owned Doug’s Frontier Amoco and Derek’s Sports. He just retired at the end of June from his work with Lakes Country Service Cooperative, where he started work in 1998 as a purchasing coordinator and health and safety facilitator.

Besides his work, Koch kept busy with a flurry of activity in the community. He served for 17 years on the Fergus Falls School Board, was past president of the Kiwanis Otter Risers and member of the Ten Mile Lake Preservation Association.

But one of his passions was with various aspects of barefoot water skiing.

“He was extremely dedicated with scoring,” Pat said. “That was kind of his key enjoyment.”

Koch was a member of the Upper Midwest Barefoot Water Ski Association, Minnesota Barefoot Water Ski Club and was past president and treasurer for the American Barefoot Club. He was very instrumental and the organization and fundraising for barefoot skiing events.

“We would have never had a world championship in Minnesota,” said Joe Knapp, senior judge for the Barefoot American Club and a national competitor. “We would have never had a nationals in Minnesota. If it wasn’t for him.”

Knapp, a barefoot water skier who lives just outside Minneapolis, and Doug go all the way back to 1986 when they tried a tournament together. Doug was “monumental” in promoting barefooting, Knapp said, and he was great with fundraising for the events. He was the force behind the World Barefoot Championships in Fergus Falls in 2000, which drew about 30,000 spectators, according to Knapp.

Doug was active in so many things, “but how did he have time?” Knapp said, because he was so involved with barefooting. Doug’s optimism and “we can do it better” attitude will be missed, Knapp said.

“We’ve been through a lot of things in all those years,” Knapp said. “I know that he was learning to go barefoot himself and learning to compete against me. He didn’t quite make that goal.”

Doug’s son, Derek, wants his dad to be remembered for his love for the Fergus Falls community and for barefooting. Doug was proud of his accomplishments with both, his son said.

“The time and effort he put into those,” Derek said. “He loved every minute of it. He loved what he was involved in. He loved doing that stuff.”

His love for education was evident, and he really promoted the junior development type of atmosphere for the skiers, Pat said. He was also a very meticulous person, a terrific organizer and wrote lots of lists.

“When he was down at the dock,… he wouldn’t quit until it was done,” Pat said. “He kept saying, ‘tomorrow’s another day.’”

Doug Koch’s milestones and achievements

1981: Received Administrator’s Certificate

1983: Moved to current home on Ten Mile Lake and opened Doug’s Frontier Amoco in Fergus Falls

1989: Elected to Fergus Falls School Board, served 17 years

1991: Purchased Pat’s Amoco in Alexandria

1991: Vice president of Ten Mile Lake Preservation Association, 1992 president, was serving as past president

1991: Served on Advisory Committee for Senator Cal Larson

1992: Served on Children’s Miracle Network Advisory Board for Fargo Children’s Hospital

1993: Became involved in barefoot water skiing when barefoot water skiing started on the Otter Tail River

1995:Served as chairman of District #544 School Board

1995: Co-directed Midwest Barefoot Regional tournament in Fergus Falls, which included 12 states

1996: co-directed 12th World Barefoot Championships on Otter Tail River in Fergus Falls, which included 13 countries

1996: Opened Derek’s Sports in Fergus Falls

1997: Executive director of Midwest Regional Board

1998: Moved to Battle Lake

1998: Employed at Lakes Country Service Cooperative as purchasing co-ordinator and Health and Safety Facilitator

1998: Served as consultant for research management firm, AES International

2000: co-directed 14th World Barefoot Championships on Otter Tail River in Fergus Falls, which included 17 countries

2004: Co-directed Water Skiers with Disabilities Association National Championships

Played Santa Claus at preschool Special Education Program for at least 11 years

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