The Fred and Mary Koch Foundation was established in 1953 and focuses its resources on not-for-profit organizations in Kansas that significantly enhance the state’s quality of life through arts, environmental stewardship, human services, enablement of at-risk youth, and education.
Art, theater and dance comprise a significant part of Kansas culture today because of the lifelong contributions of Mary Robinson Koch. Mrs. Koch left an indelible mark on the Kansas arts community, and her interest and support of higher education has enabled many talented youth to pursue a college education. Mary Clementine Robinson was born October 17, 1907, the daughter of a Kansas City, Mo., surgeon who also served as a professor at the University of Kansas School of Medicine. An English and French major, Mrs. Koch graduated in 1929 from Wellesley College in Massachusetts. She also studied at the Kansas City Art Institute. Known to express her love of the arts through drawing and painting, Mrs. Koch was also an accomplished silversmith. She married Fred Chase Koch in 1932. They raised four sons: Frederick (b.1933), Charles (b.1935), David (b.1940) and William (b.1940). She died December 21, 1990.
Fred Chase Koch was born September 23, 1900 in Quanah, Texas. He was a lifelong student with a passion for learning. After considering several scholarship offers, Fred Koch decided to attend Houston’s Rice Institute in 1917. He joined the Engineering Society and was elected class president his sophomore year. In 1919, he left Rice to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he became one of the first students to obtain a degree in Chemical Engineering Practice. After graduating in 1922, Mr. Koch continued to support MIT by providing financial assistance to students and serving on its board. He started his career with the Texas Company in Port Arthur, Texas, and later became chief engineer with the Medway Oil and Storage Company on the Isle of Grain in Kent, England. He moved to Wichita, Kansas, in 1925 and joined MIT classmate, P.C. Keith, at Keith-Winkler Engineering Company. The firm was later renamed Keith-Winkler-Koch Engineering Company. Following the departure of Keith in 1925, the firm became Winkler-Koch Engineering Company. In 1940, Fred Koch co-founded the Wood River Oil and Refining Co., Inc., the predecessor of Koch Industries, Inc. By 1961, the company's name had been changed to Rock Island Oil & Refining Co., Inc. Fred Koch died on November 17, 1967, and the company was later renamed Koch Industries, Inc., in his honor.