Still swinging: Arnold Koch plays golf on 100th birthday

November 2011 Posted in Other

By Don MurthaArnold Koch, Arthur Koch, Arthur Koch Jr., and Allen Koch celebrated Arthur\'s 100th birthday.

Scotts Mills resident Arthur Koch played a round of golf with his sons Arthur, Jr., Arnold and Allen on his birthday, Oct. 17.

That might not seem unusual, but it was Arthur’s 100th birthday. He was born in 1911.

Arthur played last August in a tournament with Arnold. They came in second but for a missed putt by the senior member of the team.

“His putt bounced off the lip of the cup, otherwise I think we would have been first,” Arnold Koch said.
“Dad is a pretty fine golfer, age is not a factor.”

Arthur Koch’s golfing career goes back decades to his hometown in Waterloo, Iowa where in 1953 Bob Hope, an avid golfer himself, presented Arthur Koch with the trophy for the Waterloo Open. “That evening, he was on Bob Hope’s show in Waterloo,” Allen said.

To celebrate his centennial, Arthur’s family held a party at the Scotts Mills Grange attended by some 50 guests.

Although golf was his all-consuming sport, Koch’s career of 33 years was with the Rath Meat Packing Co. in Waterloo, where he was manager of the lunch meats department and supervised 3,500 people.

“Dad pioneered the process center cut sliced ham. Before that, hams were sold in huge sections only. Dad was a real boon to Rath,” said his son, Arthur.

Arthur Koch was consistently at the top of the ranks among golfers in Iowa while his sons and his wife, Nellie, caddied for him. Year-after-year Koch won tournaments throughout the state and in other areas.
Golf wasn’t his only activity. In high school he played in the school band and earned extra money playing dances with a swing band. During World War II he coached the Rath basketball team to a winning season. However, the team couldn’t play for first.

“During the war the workers at the packing plant were considered vital to the war effort and couldn’t get away for three days for the tournament,” Allen said.

He also had a deep baritone voice and he recalled singing for local churches. His sister, Betty Holst, who is 94, said, “He had a voice like Bing Crosby. It was so lovely.”

“In Iowa he could only play golf about four or five months out of the year,” Arnold said. “So when he retired he moved to California where he could play 365 days a year. He won 526 tournaments in California.”

When his wife suffered a stroke and was confined to a nursing home, Koch was by her side constantly. “He was with her in the morning and had dinner with her, before he went home,” Arthur Jr. said.

When his wife died in 2001, Arthur Koch moved to Oregon to be with his son, Arnold, who lives in Scotts Mills.

Arthur Koch said when he was 92 years old “they took away my car so I don’t get around any more.” Adding he never drank, smoked or gambled. “You have to live a clean life if you want to live a long life,” he said.

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