Otto Koch 1883–1965
Little is known of Otto L. Koch. He was the son of George M. Koch, a German immigrant, and his wife Agnes Perry Koch, who had been born in England. At some time between 1887 and 1900 the family moved from Otto Koch’s birthplace of Burlington, Iowa, to Chicago. Koch received an elementary school education, and at the age of sixteen was working in an office, perhaps as an errand boy. In 1910 he married Mildred Baldwin, a fellow Chicagoan, in South Haven, Michigan, but by the time of the 1920 federal census Koch was single and occupying a studio in the Tree Studios building on Chicago’s Near North Side. There, he was evidently friends with painter and fellow resident Edgar S. Cameron, who signed Koch’s World War I draft registration record. Koch had probably established himself as a commercial artist when he was among the painters commissioned to make views of the Century of Progress exposition in 1933; he left no other evidence of practice as a fine artist. He had left Tree Studios by 1940, when, according to that year’s federal census, he was an artist in the category of “wage or salary worker in Government work,” possibly indicating that he was employed in one of the Depression-era federal relief programs. Remarried, in the early 1940s Koch moved to Kennewick, in south-central Washington State, to farm, and he died there at the age of eighty-one.
Wendy Greenhouse, PhD