Ervin Koch

Ervin Richard Koch of Cedar Grove was a man of faith who put his faith into action, not just words, his son said.

“I don’t know where (his activism) came from,” Dean Koch said. “It developed over time as he developed in his Christian faith. He felt the need to do something and make a difference.”

Mr. Koch died on Thursday, Sept. 20, at Aurora Medical Center in Grafton. He was 80.

He was born on June 12, 1938, in Milwaukee to Ervin and Alice Haunty Koch and graduated in 1956 from Riverside High School.

Two years later he married Sharon Kircher at Mother of Good Counsel Catholic Church in Milwaukee.

“They met near Bradford Beach one day after he had just quit his job at a foundry,” Dean Koch said. “He saw this beautiful woman walking across the street and sit down on a bench. They started talking and they hit it off and talked all night. It was the first girlfriend he ever had.”

The couple raised their five children in Brown Deer, living in a house Mr. Koch built with his brother-in-law Ken Kircher and father-in-law Alvin Kircher, both of whom were carpenters.

Mr. and Mrs. Koch operated Hopkins Dry Cleaners at 4700 N. Hopkins St. in Milwaukee until they sold the business, except for a couple delivery routes, in 1999 and moved to Silver Shores Drive in the Town of Belgium.

They spent much of their free time planting and maintaining their “park-like” yard and gardens, Mrs. Kircher being a master gardener, Dean Koch said.

“It was like walking through a botanical garden,” he said.

The couple enjoyed traveling. Some of Mr. Kircher’s favorite trips were a pilgrimage to Medjugorje in Bosnia, known for its apparitions of the Virgin Mary.

Other favorite trips were to Israel, Italy and the Vatican, Hawaii and Colorado.

Mrs. Kircher died in 2011. She was 72.

Mr. Kircher’s charity work increased after his wife’s death.

“He really dedicated his life to serving different charities after that,” Dean Koch said.

Mr. Koch was a member of Divine Savior St. Mary’s Chapel in Lake Church, where he attended daily mass and was cantor on Thursdays, and St. Francis Borgia Catholic Church in Cedarburg, where he was a member of the choir.

 Mr. Koch was considered by many outside of his immediate family to be a father figure and mentor.

“I’ve had several people tell me he was a surrogate father, to them, the dad they never had,” Dean Koch said. “People with fathers not in the picture, or who were abusive.

They were people he met through work, church and charity work, his son said. He stayed in close contact with many of them, inviting people often to family functions.

One of his most passionate causes was being a sidewalk counselor at area clinics where abortions were performed.

“He took  a very soft approach,” Dean Koch said. “He wanted to make women aware of alternatives and give them proper support and help them realize they had more than the option of abortion and steer them to other charities that would provide free health care, diapers, and cribs and let them know that if they chose an alternative they would be taken care of.

“Several hundred women that turned away from abortion and went on to keep their children can be directly attributed to him,” Dean Koch said.

He remained in touch with many of those women.

“One in particular stayed in very close contact and would come to our family functions,” Dean Koch said.

Mr. Koch started and coordinated Saint Francis Borgia’s ongoing bread ministry, delivering bread from area bakeries to several area charities. The ministry currently employs 40 volunteers and will continue, Dean Koch said.

Mr. Koch also sponsored a boy named Jonathan through, which seeks to empower people living in poverty,  was an active member in the Knights of Columbus, the Padre Pio Prayer Group, That Man Is You national men’s ministry and the Saint Francis Borgia coat and clothing ministry, which donates clothing to needy families.

“He would go out and look for sales and buy his own vanloads of coats and clothing and donate it to the charity,” Dean Koch said.

Mr. Koch had a love of music, dating back to when as a child he and his siblings would go Christmas caroling and had an excellent singing voice, his son said.

“When I was young I’d be a little embarassed when we were in church and singing,” his son said. “People would turn around and look at him and tell him he sounded like Frank Sinatra.”

He is survived by his children Debbie (Jack) Klinger, Darrell (Kim), Dan, David (Debbie), and Dean (Sheila); grandchildren Kurtis, Kenny (Heidi), Kristina and Kyle Klinger, Derek, Dillan, Dana, Abby, Matthew and lJosephine Koch; two great grandchildren; siblings Lois Wawrzyn, Gordy (Melanie) and Don.

He was preceded in death by his wife, parents and brothers Joe and Gary.

Visitation will be held from 4 to 7 p.m.  on Friday, Sept. 28, and at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29, at St Francis Borgia Catholic Church. A Mass of Christian burial will be held at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday at St. Francis Borgia. The Rev. Patrick Burns will preside. Burial will be at Holy Cross Cemetery in Milwaukee.

Donations to Pro-Life Wisconsin or Women’s Care Center are requested.

The Eernisse Funeral Home in Cedarburg assisted the family.




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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
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