Bruce R. Koch, 83, U.S. Foreign Service minister counselor, enjoyed deep conversation

By on February 8, 2017

Bruce R. Koch, Minister Counselor (retired) of the United States Foreign Service, died suddenly on the morning of Jan. 31, 2017 at the age of 83. He did not “pass away,” nor did he “pass on.” He would not have preferred such vocabulary, belying his brilliant capacity for direct thought and mental acuity, attributes which served him well through his rather extraordinary life and were a tremendous inspiration to those around him.

Bruce was born in 1933 and spent his childhood in Berks County with his parents, Mervyn and Sarah Koch, and beloved beagle, Jackie. From there, his life took a turn for the global, first deployed to post-war Bavaria, where he met the love of his life, Johanna (Jenny) Heinzel. After attending Ursinus College, the two of them spent most of the subsequent decades serving their country well, with their daughter Sigrid, in the diplomatic corps with posts in Romania, erstwhile Czechoslovakia, Croatia, and other Cold War locales, where he mixed easily with the artists and dissidents of the samizdat. From Europe: Africa. For much of the 1980s, Bruce’s journey took him to Ghana, Nigeria, and Ethiopia.

Following the birth of his grandson, James M. Kopf, son of Sigrid and Thomas Kopf, Bruce retired from the foreign service, so that he would be a constant and supportive presence in his only grandchild’s life, a task that he was extremely successful with.

Bruce will be missed the world over, but especially by his family, who will remember him for his genius and kindness, and the many afternoons whiled away solving the world’s problems in happy conversation.

Prayers and thoughts are welcome as are donations in his name to the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

There will be no service. Because life is for the living. To send an online condolence, visit Charles F. Snyder Jr. Funeral Home and Crematory, Lititz, handled the arrangements.

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