Longtime WMU board secretary Betty Kocher dies at 84

Contact: Cheryl Roland

Betty A. Kocher, who served as secretary to the Western Michigan University Board of Trustees for 35 years, died Nov. 2 in Kalamazoo at age 84.

Betty A. Kocher

Betty A. Kocher poses for a portrait in her home garden.

Betty A. Kocher

Kocher, who had retired just two years ago at the end of 2015, worked with 46 trustees over the years and, at the time of her retirement, had worked for every WMU president except Dwight Waldo. Between her 35 years as board secretary and earlier positions she held at WMU, she spent a total of 42 years in service to the University community. Her prior roles at the University were in the Graduate College during Paul Sangren's presidency and in Residence Life during the tenure of James Miller.

At the time of her retirement, Betty told the Kalamazoo Gazette she had truly enjoyed working with each president and with every trustee she had served under her watch.

"They're very easy to work with," she said.

Kocher first came to Kalamazoo in 1957 when her husband, Bruce, came to WMU to earn his undergraduate degree. Bruce Kocher went on to work for 40 years at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

She is survived by Bruce Kocher and their sons Tom of Kalamazoo and Michael, who lives in Geneva, Switzerland with his wife and Kocher's two grandchildren. 


A celebration of her life and a reception are planned for 3 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 20, in WMU's Heritage Hall.