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Will Koch made headlines in 2006 with the Voyage, a wooden roller coaster that not only has been ranked the best ride of its type in the world, but helped grow Holiday World & Splashin' Safari. The ride's name can be applied to Koch, who died suddenly June 13. Though his voyage through life ended long before it should have, all those who knew Will know he made dreams come true, his own and those of countless others.
Koch himself will long be remembered as an innovator who oversaw a business that grew by leaps and bounds under his watch. He was a caring husband, father, son and brother who never forgot the importance of family. Park advertisements starring him and his mother, Pat, showed that family businesses can be among the strongest and most successful.
Taking over where his grandfather and father left off, Will Koch excelled when taking the helm of the family business, growing the park from a small regional attraction to a Midwest mecca that draws more than 1 million people a year to Santa Claus and southern Indiana. That benefits Perry County, too, by offering hundreds of jobs to our residents and bolstering local businesses, including hotels.
But Koch was as committed to his community as his business, promoting attractions other than his. He was a true patron of southern Indiana, active in community and church, local schools and in other private gestures of generosity and kindness.
We imagine there are few achievements in life more satisfying than leading a business your family founded. Will Koch did that. He showed us the value of hard work and personal involvement. Koch visited often with guests and was loved by the park's staff.
Will Koch's shoes will be difficult, if not impossible, to fill, but we're confident Holiday World and Splashin' Safari is in good hands of the Koch family and the workers who share the same vision. There's also no doubt that his commitment to promoting all parts of Indiana will be felt for decades to come.
Let all of us who sat on Santa's lap at the park, traveled the Freedom Train through Mother Goose Land, matched wits against smart animals in the 1970s and 80s or enjoyed world-class rides, offer our own prayers to Koch and his family. We trust those prayers will ring clearly in the heavens.
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