Ezra Koch's first rememberances of Linfield College extend back nearly 70 years. He attended his first football games in 1935 and became aquainted with Henry Lever. He was awarded a four-year scholarship to attend Linfield, but had to turn it down due to family circumstances.
In 1946, President Harry Dillin invited Koch to assist in fundraising campaing to raise $25,000 over a five-year period. The repeated effort became known as Partners-in-Progress when Dillin retired. Koch served as P.I.P chairman for nine years. He recruited help, assigned callers and contributed time and resources. In 1955 he and his wife, Hanni, became advisors to the college-age students attending First Baptist Church. It was the most exciting and rewarding thing they had ever done. For 10 years they hosted and fostered children in McMinnville, Linfield, their church, their home into a spiritual relationship with Christ. They created a "home away from home" relationship with every student that came to their church and personally "adopted" several each year. The Koch's five children met and knew by name a majority of each Linfield graduating class. That experience heightened his dedication to the concept of Christian higher education. It remains as the central purpose in anything he does at or for Linfield even today.
Koch was introduced to the Linfield athletic scene by the need for a football score board in 1950. He knew both Paul Durham and Roy Helser from other earlier relationships. Koch helped raise the $2,200 from 22 local business people to buy the electric board which he used for many years. He offered to operate it when no one else wanted to or didn't know how. He could write at least a chapter in a book about power failures, electric "shorts" in the system buried in the ground and the excitement of running the sidelines with a hand-held stopwatch when the system failed to operate.
Koch served as chairman of the State Fair Board for several years in the 1960's. He attended a Willamette football game and saw the scoreboard there was a gift from Pepsi Cola. Paul Ail was the donor. Koch accosted Paul to ask why Linfield didn't have one like Willamette's. That was a Friday. On Monday Pepsi delivered one to Helser. He rejected the standard football scoreboard in favor of a two-sided board which showed both football and baseball, all at no cost to the college. That board was replaced many years later by Pepsi in an exchange for a drink concession. Norm Goss joined Koch about 35 years ago to keep downs, yardage and other information provided visually on the current board.
Jobs were hard to come by after World War II. Summer employment was essential to continued college schooling. For many years he helped scores of students find gainful employment at the mills and factories of our area. Koch was recognized for meritorious service to college students by admission to the NAIA District 2 Hall of Fame in 1965. In 1987-88 he received the "Outstanding Service Award" by the A.S.L.C. Senate. He is the first and only "off" campus person to receive that recognition.
While he has continued to be an active member of the P.I.P. fundraising effort, Koch is also a faithful contributor. He was the major contributor to the Rutschman Field House. To remind us of our Christian commitment, Koch also provided and placed the memorial stone in the center of campus commemorating Mrs. Linfield's gifts in 1922.
Koch has served on the Linfield Board of Trustees for 20 years and has been a personal friend to scores of students he has been privileged to know while continuing his informal education through many valued associations.