Barbara L. Koch 1927 - 2021

In Loving and Grateful Memory of a Faithful Wife and Mother

Barbara L. Koch began life August 3, 1927, in Portland, the youngest child of Grace Mick and Charles (Ogden) Staley, separating her siblings by 15 years: the eldest sister, Mary, and twins, James and Francis. She married Fred Koch Jr. in 1948, and they were married  for 71 years, until his passing on July 27, 2020. The couple bore two children, son Malcolm, born August 21, 1950, and a daughter, Grace Ann, born June 20, 1953. Barbara became the classic, stay-at-home, post-war mother, gracious and kind to all.

Barbara’s early life was spent on the family farm located on the southwest side of Mount Richmond in Yamhill County. Her father, Charles, was the maintenance electrical engineer in the shop facility for the Oregon Electric Railway. He worked the family farm on weekends with a hired man and his wife Grace and daughter Barbara. Occasionally, relatives and friends would visit, bringing supplies from Portland. The family enterprise included growing wheat, tending the orchard, milking the cow and feeding the chickens. Barbara’s favorite pet was her brother’s dog, Tatters; but the farm dog, Queenie, had a friendship with the rooster who always wanted to ride on Queenie’s back in the pickup.

The farm lacked modern conveniences of running water and electricity. It was fed by a small stream and spring with a small pond. Grade school was in Yamhill, Oregon. Barbara was the only student allowed to leave school to do the family banking, largely from the sale of cream to Rose Dairy in Forest Grove or produce from the orchard and the wheat harvest. Accounting skills came early to her.
Grace Staley cooked on a woodstove. Barbara remembers bathing with water heated from that stove in the washtub and thinking that very normal. She fondly remembers her father using his Oregon Electric Railway pass to ride to the state fair on the Southern Pacific Railway. The first visit was to Fisher’s for scones and the second to the livestock sheds. This tradition was established in married life, especially the hunt for scones.

Barbara was just six years old during the great 1933 Tillamook Burn. The sky was black with smoke, dark as night on Mount Richmond. Fire equipment managed to stall the blaze a mile and a half over the summit of Mount Richmond. They used water from the stream, pond and well. Ignitions from falling embers were extinguished by the hired help and family members, saving the farm. Oregon Historical Society and Forest Service imagery from the time represent Oregon’s recent experience; but not as Barbara experienced it on the farm.

Shortly after, following the death of her father, she moved to Portland, where she lived with her sister, Francis and her husband Manuel, a garbageman. Her mother, Grace, never remarried, but for many years was the head cook for The Children’s Farm Home in Corvallis, Oregon. Barbara attended Commerce High School in Portland while living with Francis. Her mother decided to move to McMinnville with Barbara. Grace was employed there by the Portland Glove Company, then located in the block now under construction by First Federal Savings and Loan Association.

Barbara graduated in 1946 from McMinnville High School. She worked a summer job for Oregon Mutual Insurance Company, while her first full-time job was bookkeeper for Farnham Electric Company, which did wiring services and then sold electric appliances while employing a sales staff.
These experiences with money, thrift and accounting played a large role in her married life. She shared duties in that capacity for the family business until its incorporation. Thereafter, as the family invested wisely by purchasing rental properties, a rental and leasing company was formed. Expansion of City Sanitary Service led to the manufacturing of roll-off trucks, compactors, transfer stations and shuttles for use with rear load trucks. Many of these systems were leased to West Coast buyers. Barbara managed those enterprises.

Early years of marriage, before children, were happily spent earnestly fishing with her husband. The “cementing” formed a bond strong enough to last 71 years, until she was widowed. No matter the troubles, Barbara always said she would never consider divorce and would rather work out known problems rather than assuming unknown problems through divorce and remarriage. In this regard, she maintained her deeply held Christian vows, faithfulness to her husband and family.

Her son and daughter experienced a mother, in a word: nonpareil. Family problems? She would habitually say, “Let me work on it.” While neither she nor her husband had a college education, their high school scholarship was exceptional. Each knew the value of learning. It was Mom who made sure each child had piano lessons. Grace’s interests leaned toward art and music, specifically McMinnville’s Little Singers. Malcolm’s interests moved toward speech communication. Transportation was a given. She also was a regular driver/chaperone for the high school speech team. She was integral in assuring her son’s health by securing allergy immunology treatments in a Portland clinic. And never a bad meal.

Family vacations became three-week affairs usually interspersed among trips to OMSI, the swimming pool and the library. Yellowstone. Glacier National Park. Washington, D.C. Pacific City, the McKenzie River, and Wickiup Reservoir. College education was an imperative. Malcolm become a communications teacher and Grace became a nurse. It was only after they left  home that she and her husband permitted themselves a second honeymoon and traveled to Germany and France.

She was an avid genealogist, recognized for her work with the Yamhill County Historical Society for doing the newsletter and helping others learn genealogy. Her major project was a compilation of The Best Family History, over 1000 pages, and preparing it for publication. She also compiled A History of the First Presbyterian Church of McMinnville for their bicentennial celebration while serving as the Ruling Elder on church session in charge of reconstruction of the sanctuary. The final piece, the bell tower, was undertaken with her husband, Fred, when her son Malcolm served as a Ruling Elder.

Without exception, all family, friends and visitors to their home thought she was gracious. The sharing of the meal table, fish and venison or elk meat to others, azaleas, garden bounty, hanging flower baskets – a family endeavor, to be sure – would not have been possible without her. In fact, those possibilities happened because of her. Her spirit is now in God’s hands and celebrated by us.

She is survived by her son, Malcolm; her daughter, Grace Ann; nephew, Charles Glanz; and nephews, Joe and Antonio Molinari; and her niece, Antoinette Molinari.

Services will be held at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, April 10, at Evergreen Memorial Park Cemetery. Viewing will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, April 8, at the Chapel of Macy & Son. To leave condolences, visit


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