Michael Kocher's younger brother lays a wreath....
If you have been here, to BeachGrit, more than five times then you will certainly remember the swinging prose of Michael Kocher. He blasted onto our little universe with stories about being a Marine and surfing and giving up surfing for drugs and getting spinal cancer. Turned out the spinal cancer bit was a scam but funny. Right? Or interesting at the very least. Sure he wrote bad junkie prose from time to time but overall Kocher was a fun part of our DNA. An interesting part. Last week he was gunned down by police in Denver for taking people hostage. Here his younger brother writes an obituary.
He was a very intelligent young boy, able to breeze through most academic challenges the schools could throw at him, excelling in math, language arts, history, and social studies, eventually earning his degree in political science while attending UAA. As a teenager he became interested in computer programming.
He was also a voracious reader, reading anything that piqued his interest, fiction or not. When he was younger (in middle and high school) he enjoyed reading Star Wars novels, something he passed on to me, but more than anything he loved the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, having read The Lord of the Rings trilogy dozens of times as well as every other work published by the man and also posthumous releases.
If you had a question about Middle Earth or the Star Wars Universe, he could talk at length about it or nearly anything else, as he had a memory like a steel trap. He had a boisterous personality from the very beginning and though he wasn’t always quick to agree, people usually found something about him that they liked or had in common and he made countless friends and acquaintances throughout his years and travels.
He was in JROTC in high school and always showed a great deal of respect for military service of which my family has contributed a fair amount. His greatest influence was probably his maternal grandfather, who served in World War II as a United States Marine. He joined the USMC and in 2006 at age 23 and made it through boot-camp despite a bout of pneumonia; He pushed through it, something for which he carried a great deal of pride.
Unfortunately, he was not prepared to handle some of what he witnessed in Syria and Iraq, and though his time there was mostly spent fixing radios and aiding the locals, the experience changed him. As the article in the Eagle River star reported, he reached out to friends and family for donations of soccer balls for the local children. He succeeded in gathering over 50 soccer balls and a Hand Pump. It was the most humanitarian/charitable thing he ever did.
He continued college after returning, but, despite earning his degree and being a Veteran, his search for gainful employment was met with one disappointment after another leaving him feeling downtrodden and hopeless at times. Much of his difficulty in life after that was tied to a recurring addiction various substances including alcohol and opiates, the toll of which seems to have ultimately lead to his demise.
During this time he did some things he regretted and had intended to rectify in his life. His family, friends, and those that worked and served with him will remember him as intelligent and passionate with a personality that could fill a room. He loved surfing, having surfed Yakutat, Alaska and the California coast and revered the works of Allan C. Weisbecker who wrote In Search of Captain Zero was his and my mom’s favorite book. Jack Kerouac was also a favorite author of Michael’s who always had a romantic and poetic outlook on life. He wasn’t one to let obstacles dictate his path and usually found a way to achieve what he wanted in life.
His greatest downfall, perhaps, was expecting too much from himself and the world…
Scott Kocher, brother of Michael