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Philip Koch dead at 47

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SANTA CLAUS – Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort owner and president Philip J. Koch died early Tuesday morning surrounded by his family at Deaconess Hospital in Evansville. He was 47.

Koch suffered cardiac arrest while in Evansville April 1.

Born and raised in Santa Claus, Koch attended Heritage Hills High School in Lincoln City, graduating in 1983. He attended Purdue University and graduated in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management.

Koch was chief executive officer of Ho Ho Holdings LLC, the parent company of Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort, the Santa Claus Christmas Store, Kringle Place Shopping Center and Santa’s Land LLC.

Under his direction, according to a company news release, the recreational-vehicle park grew from a 100-site campground to a 500-site destination resort including over 270 cabins and rental RVs. He helped design the layouts for Lake Rudolph’s king-size rental RV sites and Rudolph’s Christmas Cabins. Lake Rudolph was voted as a top-10 favorite park nationally in 2011 by readers of Woodall’s Campground Directory.

The National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds awarded Lake Rudolph several honors, including the 2004-05 and 2008-09 National Large RV Park of the Year Award. Other awards include the Spencer County Regional Chamber of Commerce 2008 Business of the Year.

Koch created and opened the Santa Claus Christmas Store in 2009 and tripled its size in 2011, adding personalized ornaments, gifts and Christmas trees to its inventory. He also created the Santa Claus Land of Lights Family Christmas Light Adventure in 2009 as the largest campground drive through light show in North America, the release notes.

“We have lost our leader and our friend, Philip,” said Dave Lovell, marketing director for Ho Ho Holdings. “Philip created such wonderful attractions and activities for families to visit and enjoy. His main concern was making sure our guests had great experiences in a fun, clean, family environment. He also created a great staff to run his businesses. While we mourn his passing, we want to assure our guests that we will be open for business as Lake Rudolph begins its 56th season on May 1.”

Koch earned the distinction of being a Certified Park Operator by ARVC, was chairman of the Santa Claus Christmas Celebration committee and served on several boards, including those of Spencer County Bank, the U.S. 231 Coalition and the Recreation Vehicle Indiana Council. He was a member of the Sons of the American Legion, Dusty Trails Saddle Club and the Southern Indiana Horseman’s Club.

His philanthropic efforts included numerous donations to area churches and nonprofit organizations, including Ronald McDonald House Charities and the ARVC Foundation, donation of land to help create Jim Yellig Park in Santa Claus, and donation of office space for the Spencer County Visitors Bureau.

Even in death, Philip continues to give as he has donated his organs to help others, the company reported, adding he was passionate about continuing the legacy of his father, the late Bill Koch, to build and promote the tourism industry in Santa Claus. The town’s slogan, America’s Christmas Hometown, was one of Philip’s many ideas.

Koch is survived by his wife, Carol, and two children, Alexa and Logan. He is also survived by his mother, Pat, and siblings Kristi, Dan and Natalie.

In lieu of flowers, as per Philip’s wishes, please make all donations to the Santa Claus Museum. The family will create an antique historical train room in his honor.

Funeral arrangements are pending.