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David Koch, Wichita son who influenced American industry, philanthropy and politics, has died

Jonathan Shorman, The Wichita Eagle on

Published in News & Features

WICHITA, Kan. -- David Koch, who along with his brother Charles ran Koch Industries for decades and became a household name in American politics, has died.

Koch was 79. Koch Industries said in a statement he died "after many years of fighting various illnesses." A friend of the family said Koch died Thursday night and had been able to visit Charles last week.

Koch was born in Wichita and had lived in New York City. He was an executive at Koch Industries until he retired in 2018 amid declining health. The company is central to Wichita, where it employs more than 3,000 people along with 120,000 employees worldwide.

Along with Charles, David Koch was very active politically, helping fund a variety of political advocacy groups. He was also a philanthropist, donating millions to the arts.

"It is with a heavy heart that I announce the passing of my brother David. Anyone who worked with David surely experienced his giant personality and passion for life," Charles Koch said in a statement.

Charles Koch said that David had been diagnosed 27 years ago with advanced prostate cancer. But a combination of doctors and state-of-the-art medications "and his own stubbornness" kept the cancer at bay.

 

"We can all be grateful that it did, because he was able to touch so many more lives as a result," Charles Koch said.

David Koch is survived by his wife, Julia Koch, and three children.

"While we mourn the loss of our hero, we remember his iconic laughter, insatiable curiosity, and gentle heart," the family said in a joint statement.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a former congressman from Wichita, praised Koch's achievements.

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