When I think of the Koch Brothers, I think of Charles and David and the behemoth Koch Industries. My impression of the Koch Brothers: ruthless capitalists and libertarians. Conservative and greedy polluters.
I didn’t know of the eldest Koch brother, Frederick, whose obit I just read in the New York Times: “Frederick Koch, Who Spurned Family Business, Dies at 86.”
It was this from the obit that got me the most:
Frederick’s spurning of the family business helped fuel the disappointment that Fred Chase Koch, a self-made man and rugged individualist, felt toward his oldest son.NYT
Why was Frederick a disappointment to a self-made man and rugged individualist? Maybe this quote, from Frederick’s brother William, sheds some light:
“When Freddie was born, he was delicate, he liked the arts, he was a singer and loved poetry. He didn’t want to play baseball.”
At one point, Dad kicked his oldest son out of the family. As an adult, Frederick had little to do with his brothers, other than through lawsuits they filed against each other.
Frederick used his portion of the family wealth to fund the arts. He collected rare manuscripts, restored historical manors and such. That’s not definitely fulfilling Dad’s dream of oil-drilling.
Frederick had the financial circumstances to live the life he wanted, and he did exactly that. His entire estate is being left to a foundation that will promote the study of history, literature and the arts. Just the other day I was lamenting how we live in a country that doesn’t value the arts enough.
Frederick’s only survivors are his brothers Bill and Charles. The other brother, David, is already gone. The father who was disappointed in him: long gone. I hope there were others who loved him.