I am a long time teacher at York Central School and while I never had Christian in my class, I watched him grow through the years, graduate, and head out into the world. It was as an alumni of our school that my relationship with Christian grew and flourished.
We at York, like most Americans, are very thankful for our veterans. We have an exceptional Veterans Day assembly every year that honors our service men and women. It was Christian’s help and support of that assembly that found he and I connecting and establishing the relationship that I treasure.
Christian was a person who quickly found a special place in the hearts of all he knew and whose lives he touched. I was blessed to have Christian, the “Uncle Extraordinaire,” as my guest reader more than once on Veterans Day when I had his nephew and then his niece in my kindergarten class.
Christian had a way with people, especially little people. His loss is an extreme heartbreak for us all, but especially for those children that he loved and made a difference in their lives.
Christian made a difference and an impact in so many lives. He was proud and he was humble. Most often our “behind the scenes” guy who made things happen for our Veterans Day assembly and never wanted any of the credit for what he did. He wanted honor and respect to be aimed at others, never himself.
While he didn’t want to be in the spotlight, he certainly shone in our lives. He often “snuck” into the assembly, quietly and then you’d feel the hug from behind and you knew it was him and he was there. Nobody hugged quite like Christian, the kind of hug that stays with you long after you stopped hugging and carries you through till the next time you meet. I will miss those hugs, and that smile that lit up the room.
Until next time, Christian.
Gretchen Crane of Geneseo is an elementary teacher at York Central School and the district’s Veteran’s Day coordinator. Chief Warrant Officer 4 Christian Koch, a 1999 graduate of York, was one of three National Guard soldiers killed in a Jan. 20 helicopter crash in Mendon.