Holiday World family member Philip Koch, 47, dies


EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Philip Koch, whose family developed Holiday World and Splashin' Safari and several other Christmas-themed businesses in and around the southern Indiana town of Santa Claus, died Tuesday, eight days after suffering cardiac arrest. He was 47.

Koch died at Deaconess Hospital in Evansville, HO HO Holdings LLC spokesman Dave Lovell told The Associated Press. Koch was chief executive of the company.

HO HO Holdings also is the parent company of Lake Rudolph Campground & RV Resort, the Santa Claus Christmas Store, Kringle Place Shopping Center and real estate developer Santa's Land LLC.

Koch expanded Lake Rudolph from a 100-site campground to a 500-site resort including more than 270 cabins and rental RVs. The National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds named Lake Rudolph its large RV park of the year in 2004-05 and 2008-09.

"Philip created such wonderful attractions and activities for families to visit and enjoy. His main concern was making sure our guests had great experiences in a fun, clean, family environment," Lovell said in a news release.

He continued the legacy of his late father, Bill Koch, by promoting the tourism industry in Santa Claus, about 35 miles northeast of Evansville, and thought up the town's slogan, "America's Christmas Hometown."

Koch was born and raised in Santa Claus and graduated from Purdue University with a business degree.

Survivors include his wife, Carol; two children, Alexa and Logan; and his mother, Pat Koch. His brother, Will Koch, who led Holiday World through a large expansion, died in 2010 at age 48.

Koch's funeral will be held Friday morning following a visitation at St. Nicholas Catholic Church in Santa Claus. A visitation also will be held Thursday.

The Santa Claus Museum will create an antique historical train room in his honor, the parent company said.

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