Peter Koch, chief executive officer of Koch Eye Associates, was honored Thursday by the Rotary Club of Warwick with the Hayden Bentley Award. Bentley was a charter member of the club in 1949 and the award was created in his honor to recognize strong leadership and excellence in a person or group of people in the community who are non-Rotarians.
But while Koch’s community efforts were recognized, it was Koch who praised the community work of the Rotary Club.
“I’ve been a fan of yours for many years,” he said in accepting the presentation made by Thomas Celona, past president of the club and chairman of the selection committee.
Koch recalled the various fundraising activities of the service club from the air show at Quonset, which is now run by the Rhode Island National Guard, to the circus that was once held at Warwick Mall.
“This [award] should be shared with all of you,” he said.
Koch is especially proud of the Koch Eye Care Day, which the company has held for the past nine years in memory of his father, Dr. Peter Koch. During the day, which will be held July 27, about 135 Koch employees spend the day assisting community non-profit organizations. He said about 25 charities will benefit from those services this year.
Celona called Koch “a successful business entrepreneur since his days at Bishop Hendricken High School.” In addition to Koch Eye that has grown from a three-doctor practice with one office to a 21-doctor practice with seven offices, Koch has owned several other businesses, including two liquor stores, an import/export business, a cigar emporium, a limousine company, several optical shops, a managed vision care organization, an ATM business and several real estate ventures. Prior to his position at Koch Eye Associates, Koch acquired substantial expertise in financial and statistical analysis as the owner of a Public Accounting Firm for seven years, maintaining two offices and six employees.
It, however, is what Koch has given back to the community that was the focus of the award.
Celona said Koch serves, or has served, as a board or steering committee member for several local organizations, including the Rhode Island Mentoring Partnership, the Rhode Island Chapter of the American Red Cross, the Workforce Partnership of Greater Rhode Island, Sargent Rehabilitation Center, The Burke Fund, Cornerstone Adult Services, Buttonhole and the Riverpoint Royals Baseball Team. He is also a former member of the Board of Directors for Bishop Hendricken High School and has been inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame.
Koch said he was honored to follow retired Warwick Superintendent Robert Shapiro, “who loves this community and the children of Warwick,” as a recipient of the Hayden Bentley Award.
Koch also suggested club members become mentors.
“If you are not involved with mentoring, you should be. Mentoring is a no-brainer, get involved with it,” he said.
Koch’s community involvement has been recognized by others.
In 2002 he was awarded the Al Andrews Community Achievement Award by the Central Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce and also received the Alice Sullivan Award for his dedication to high school sports. In 2004, he received an award from the Volunteer Center of Rhode Island for Outstanding Commitment to Volunteerism. That same year, Koch Eye Associates was honored by the Providence Business News, with their Business Excellence Award for Community Involvement.
A graduate of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., Koch is married and has four grown children. Koch is an avid and accomplished golfer, with six “holes in one” to his credit.