Remembering Dad: His Newsletter Obituary
WAYNE C. KOECKE
With much of his family and several friends at his side, Wayne Koecke died at his home on December 16th. His vigil for life, and battle against cancer, ended on a snowy evening in a room by a window that several of his grandkids had built a snowman just outside of in hopes of raising his spirits just one more time. Somehow, we think it did.
Wayne was born on the family farm in Bloomington, Wisconsin on February 2, 1932. He was five when his mother died and his father lost his dairy farm. His father moved the family to Wyalusing on the Mississippi River. Wayne loved to fish at Long Pond, and "borrow" row boats to ride the wakes of the mighty paddle wheelers as they cruised the river.
Later the family moved to Boscabel where Wayne began his business career. He was still a young boy when he tried to sell enough seeds to earn the movie projector in the ad on the back of his comic book. He also tried peddling the watermelons that were too small for market. Thereafter, he was in business for the rest of his life.
When the family moved to Milwaukee in the 40s, Wayne's brothers, Rudy and Garth, and sister, Audrey, started leaving home. His father worked nights, and Wayne would deliver papers and shine shoes to have money to go to the movies. He'd tell us about the windfall he made delivering papers the day World War II ended, and the big tips he would get from the musicians whose shoes he'd shine. But even being that close to the members of the big bands, Wayne went to the movies to see his heroes: Roy Rogers and Trigger, Gene Autrey, and the Marines.
He and his father moved to Starvation Hill near Corvallis, Oregon when Wayne was fifteen. He soon moved out on his own, and set pins in a bowling alley to pay the rent on his housekeeping room that came with kitchen privileges. He dropped out of high school at the age of seventeen, and joined the Marines.
He started as a clerk typist, but was transferred to the tanks as a driver when the Korean War began. In thirteen months in Korea, Wayne saw action at Inchon, Seoul, Yangu Valley, the Punchbowl, and the Chosin Reservoir. Wayne was listed as "missing in action" at one point there. He was discharged as a Staff Sergeant in 1952.
He bought a log truck, and ran it for a while back in Corvallis. He sold it in 1953, and enrolled in a Dairy Apprentice Program at Oregon State College. It was there that he met Yvonne Kamrath, who worked as a secretary in the same building.
August 10th, 1953 was his first payday in the program, and was the occasion of their first date. On their second date, he proposed. They were married on December 12th that year.
They had five children. Maureen, Thomas, Kathryn, and Robert survive him, while David preceded him in death in 1965.
His career in finance began in 1954 as a teller in a bank. In 1955 he went to work for Capital Finance where he became known for his ability to deal with people in collections. He was transferred to Mountain Home, Idaho in 1957 where he established the office most quickly profitable in the company's history. He was transferred to Tacoma in 1962, and decided to settle there.
He left the finance company in 1969 to become the first Executive Director for Consumer Credit Counseling Service. Again, his success was astounding. He was offered national posts with CCCS when he left in 1972 after buying Pierce County Chapter Counseling and Collections from Jim Scott. Jim had several offers from other agencies to buy his company, but, in the credit union spirit, sold the company to someone who would help people. Wayne was his man.
Wayne did not set the office up with the goal to make a lot of money. He set it up to provide valuable services for his clients. Wayne and Yvonne worked hard to make the office viable filling the needs of the clients, and lending his considerable knowledge to resolving problems.
Wayne had many principles, and always considered his word his bond. He was proud of the fact that no credit union has ever lost one cent it was due for collections. It would hurt him to lose any client, but especially those that were lost as his CEO friends delegated power to newcomers who would overlook the previous relationship and change things for the sake of changing things.
Wayne lived and died believing that you help people solve their debt problems to get paid. He would always accept a person's best effort.
About 200 people attended Wayne's services on December 21st. Relatives, friends, neighbors, representatives from military organizations, and eight Marines listened to some of his favorite songs, heard about the man, and shared memories of him. Clad in a bright Hawaiin shirt his sister-in-law, Eileen, made for him, Wayne was laid to rest with full military honors.
Our Chairman is no longer with us, but his spirit will always be here. PCCC&C will not change much with this loss. We will continue to help people get their bills to our clients paid; we will continue looking for ways to assist our clients with their needs rather than selling a program; and we will continue the belief that credit unions are the best institutions for the public.
Wayne would want it that way.
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