About Mary Clementine Koch (Robinson)
Art, theater, and dance comprise a significant part of Kansas culture today because of the lifelong contributions of Mary Robinson Koch.
As the matriarch of Koch Industries, one of the nation's largest privately held companies, Mrs. Koch left an indelible mark on virtually every facet of the Wichita arts community.
Mary Clementine Robinson was born October 17, 1907, the daughter of a prominent Kansas City, MO surgeon. As an English and French major at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, Mrs. Koch loved to draw and paint. She also studied art at the Kansas City Art Institute. She married Fred Chase Koch, the founder of Koch Industries, in 1932, and raised four sons: Frederick, Charles, David and William. She died December 21, 1990.
Mary Koch was active in providing financial support and guidance through the Fred C. Koch Foundation to cultural programs and scholarships at many universities and secondary schools including locally: Wichita State University, Friends University, Kansas Newman College and Wichita Collegiate School.
As a connoisseur of art, dance and theatre, she was also active in supporting the following: Wichita Center for the Arts (formerly known as the Wichita Art Association), Wichita Art Museum, Metropolitan Ballet of Wichita, Kansas Arts Commission, Wichita Children's Theatre, Wichita Symphony Society and Midwest Enamelist Association.
Mary Koch not only contributed financially to the Wichita cultural community, she provided inspiration to other artists through her own creations. Her drawings and paintings have been exhibited in many locations including the: National Junior League Magazine in 1934, National Junior League Conference in Mexico City in 1937, Fine Arts Center in Colorado Springs, and Wichita Art Museum in 1939.
She was also an accomplished silversmith and exhibited jewelry throughout the region, including one-woman shows at the following: Wichita Art Association in 1972, Wichita State University in 1973 and Wellesley College in 1974.
The generosity and contributions of Mrs. Koch have been widely recognized. Among the many honors she received were the following: The National Society of Fund Raising Executives named her Outstanding Philanthropist in 1983, The National Jewish Hospital and Research Center/National Asthma Center honored her as Wichita Philanthropist of the Year in 1984, The Wichita/Sedgwick County Arts and Humanities Council presented her with the Art Recognition Award in 1988, and The Wichita Center for the Arts honored Mary Koch, Olive Ann Beech and Gladys Wiedemann in 1990 for their contributions.
Mrs. Koch's interests were not confined to the arts. Known to her friends as "Mighty Mary," she was also an avid fisher, hunter, tennis player and golfer for which she received many awards and honors, including Wichita Country Club's low medallist winner and Player of the Year in 1941, and Club Champion in 1950.