YOUNGSTOWN – Richard W. Koker, 85, passed away unexpectedly Wednesday morning, May 23, 2018, at St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown, with family by his side.
Richard was born Oct. 3, 1932, in Youngstown, a son of the late Charles M. and Catherine Haramija Koker, and was a lifelong area resident.
He was a 1950 graduate of Ursuline High School, and proudly served in the U.S. Army, 45th Infantry Division during the Korean War. Richard worked for 33 years as a produce manager for the A&P Tea Company and for Giant Eagle at several Youngstown-area stores. Mr. Koker had also been a business representative for the Mahoning County Board of Mental Retardation / Developmental Disabilities at the MASCO Workshop Program, and he was a volunteer at the Leonard Kirtz School in Austintown.
Fluent in sign language, he was an interpreter for the Youngstown Speech & Hearing Center, an interpreter for the hearing impaired for the Youngstown Diocese, and he taught sign language classes in the area at several schools and churches. Among the most memorable moments in his life were the times he served as an interpreter for local events held by Billy Graham, Margaret Thatcher, and Al Gore.
Richard was a longtime member of Holy Apostles Parish, Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic Church in Youngstown, where he was a member of the Men’s Club and served as an Eucharistic Minister for the homebound. Very active in the community, he was also a member of Croatian Fraternal Union, St. George Lodge No. 66 in Youngstown; the Korean War Veterans Mahoning Valley Chapter No. 137, where he was a trustee, secretary, chaplain, and lifetime member; the United Veterans Council, where he was named “Veteran of the Year” for 2002; the Ohio Association of Deaf/Blind Service Providers of Columbus; the American Legion Post No. 15 in Poland.
Mr. Koker enjoyed watching Turner Classic Movies on TV. He loved boxing, and was proud to have met Muhammad Ali and Ernie Shavers. He also enjoyed fishing with his nephews and close friends, and he loved the comradery he shared with everyone when he attended the Silver Sneakers twice a week, with his caregiver, Darlene.
Richard leaves his wife of nearly 60 years, Phyllis Fish Koker, whom he married Sept. 13, 1958; two daughters, Brenda Phillips of Austintown and Sandra Koker of Youngstown; two sisters, Emily Draca and Cathy (Mladen) Doslovic, both of Youngstown; two brothers, Leonard (Sandra) Koker of Youngstown and Daniel Koker of Largo, Fla.; two grandchildren, Jennifer (John) Avolio of Wexford, Pa. and Alyssa Phillips (fiancé John Mock) of Tremont; and his “grand-fur-babies,” Sebastian, Geno, Colin, Nikki, Oscer, Noah, and Helen.
Richard was preceded in death by three brothers, Charles, Thomas, and infant David Koker, and by two sisters, Pauline and Margaret Rose Koker.
Family and friends may call from 5 to 7 p.m., Friday, May 25, at Kinnick Funeral Home, 477 N. Meridian Rd., in Youngstown, and are welcome to attend a Mass of Christian Burial to be celebrated Saturday, May 26, at 10 a.m. at Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic Church, 421 Covington St., in Youngstown.
Committal services with military honors will follow at Calvary Cemetery in Youngstown.