Sunday, January 23, 2011



Margaret Rau Koch, age 92, died peacefully on January 7th, 2011 in Klamath Falls, Oregon. Eternal Hills Funeral Home in charge of the arrangements.

Margaret R. Koch was born April 13, 1918 in Sacramento, California. Her father was Dr. George James Rau, a dentist and U.S. Naval Officer in World War I. Her mother was Callista Marie Martin, a teacher. She also had a younger brother, George James Rau, born in 1919.

She grew up and spent almost her entire life in Santa Cruz, California. Margaret studied journalism at U.C. Berkeley where she met her husband, Edward C. Koch. They were married in 1938, on Margaret's birthday April 13th.

Margaret was a staff writer for the Santa Cruz Sentinel newspaper for over twenty years. She was a California historian and published six books. She was a community activist and key in preserving and restoring historic downtown Santa Cruz. She was also named woman of the year in 1972.

She and Ed were world travelers and very adventuresome, starting with a car trip-honeymoon from California to Mexico City in 1938. The entire family spent two weeks every summer hiking and camping in the High Sierras of California. Margaret and Ed traveled to Japan, Russia, China, South America, Guatemala, Mexico, Europe, British Isles, Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific. They had two sons, Edward and Thomas and a daughter Kathleen. They had five grandchildren and four great-grand children.

There will be a small memorial service at Crystal Terrace on Sunday, January 16th at 1:00 PM. A private family service will be held in April in Santa Cruz on the property that has that has been in the family for six generations.

IVANO SAYS (CONT'D): ADDIO, MARGARET. As one of my sources for historical background in writing my book, "La Nostra Costa" (Our Coast), I extensively used your book, "Santa Cruz County, Parade of the Past", published in 1973, by Valley
Press. Thanks Margaret for enlightening and educating us all with your life and great works.


01-24-11: This just in from Len Klempnauer:

Attached is a B/W photo of Margaret Koch that was published with a news story -- added below -- about her death that was published in Saturday's Sentinel (Jan. 22).
-- Len Klempnauer
P.S. I worked with her at the Sentinel for about 15 years.

Headline: Newspaperwoman, Author and County Historian Margaret Koch Dies

As a fourth-generation Santa Cruz resident who lived on the property first settled by her great-grandparents, it's fitting Margaret Rau Koch dedicated much of her life to preserving the history of Santa Cruz County.
She died Jan. 7 in Klamath Falls, Ore. She was 92.
During her tenure as a staff writer at the Santa Cruz Sentinel, where she worked from 1957-1981, Koch's work focused heavily on the county's history. She penned articles that helped lead to the restoration and preservation of some of the historical buildings in Santa Cruz, including an adobe building on School Street, part of the Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park.
"It was a life well lived and full of adventure and enthusiasm," said Soquel resident Barbara Burklo, a former Sentinel co-worker and life-long friend.
"She had a real zest for life," and was a "fountain of knowledge" about Santa Cruz County, she added.
Koch was born April 13, 1918, in Sacramento, but spent most of her life in Santa Cruz. She met her husband, Edward Koch, while studying journalism at UC Berkeley, and they married in 1938 -- on her 20th birthday.
As a reporter, Koch focused on feature stories, as well as religion and history, and even had her own column, "My Mountain Home," about life around her Glenwood homestead.
Koch also wrote numerous books about the county's history, including "Santa Cruz County: Parade of the Past."
In fact, a distant relative found Koch earlier this decade because she was such a prolific writer.
Lompoc resident Gail Benson was conducting online research into her family's history in Santa Cruz, and found one of Koch's books. Benson saw a notation that Koch was looking for a picture of a gentleman by the name of Nicholas Gann, who Benson said is one of her distant relatives.
She did some sleuthing and found Koch's phone number and the two met several times.
"She was just a very bright lady, fun to talk to and cheerful," Benson recalled.
Carolyn Swift, director of the Capitola Historical Museum, still has a copy of "Parade of the Past," which was published in 1973 and is filled with pictures taken during the course of her interviews.
Gathering all of the information about the history of the entire county was a "phenomenal feat," Swift said, and set the framework those who came after her such as Sandy Lydon, historian emeritus at Cabrillo College.
"People still talk about her," Swift said. "She was very influential in telling people's stories. She was synonymous with Santa Cruz history before Sandy Lydon came along."
In her later years, Koch moved to Sedona, Ariz., to live closer to one of her sons, and became active in the artist community there showing her watercolor paintings.
Koch most recently had moved to Klamath Falls to live closer to her other son Thomas Koch.
"We're all sort of just passing through," Swift said. "When you move away, people tend to forget about you, but people still talk about her . . . She passed through, but she didn't get forgotten, and I think that's kind of a tribute."