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Published: Friday, 5/12/2006

Former Ohio Bell executive aided GOP, community groups in Findlay

FINDLAY - Donald Robert Kocher, 81, a retired Ohio Bell System executive and a Republican Party activist who was a former candidate for Hancock County commissioner, died Wednesday in the emergency room of the Blanchard Valley Regional Health Center here.

The family believes he suffered a stroke or a heart attack.

Mr. Kocher's career with the former Bell System spanned 35 years. He retired in 1981 as national account manager handling Marathon Oil Co., having risen from a plant crew member.

Over the years, he was active in the Hancock County Republican Party and Ohio Republican Party, having managed Ohio election campaigns and get-out-the-vote telephone campaigns.

Mr. Kocher was a member of the Hancock County Republican Party central committee, a past president of the Young Republicans Club of Hancock County, and a past vice chairman of the Hancock County Republican Executive Committee.

He had been a temporary registrar for the Hancock County Board of Elections and a past chairman of the county Republican patronage committee.

In addition, Mr. Kocher had served in leadership capacities at a number of service organizations such as the Findlay Area Chamber of Commerce; the former Lincoln Center, Findlay; the United Way of Hancock County; Findlay PTA, and Findlay Youth Baseball. He also donated to area philanthropic endeavors such as the City Mission.

He ran unsuccessfully for Hancock County commissioner in 1981.

"He just loved people. He felt so dedicated to his country and family and friends," said his wife of 36 years, Cleora.

A Toledo native, Mr. Kocher attended a high school until his junior year in 1942, when he lied about his age and enlisted in the Army. He served 39 months in the Army Air Corps in the Pacific Theater.

After his honorable discharge in 1945, Mr. Kocher came back to Toledo and later finished high school. He went to work for the Ohio Bell System while taking courses in sales at the University of Toledo.

In 1945, he married Marjorie Ann Miller. They divorced in 1968. In 1969, he married Cleora J. Pruett.

Mr. Kocher was a member of St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church, Findlay. His other memberships included the Findlay Exchange Club, where he was a past officer, and the Elks Lodge 75 of Findlay.

Surviving are his wife Cleora; son, Kim; daughter, Melanie Ann Kocher; stepdaughter, Darlene Lazarow, and a step-granddaughter.

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. tomorrow at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church-East. After 5 p.m. today, the body will be in the Kirkpatrick-Behnke Funeral Home, where a scripture service will be at 8:45 p.m. today. The family suggests tributes to the church, the City Mission, or a charity of the donor's choice.

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