Santa Fe Living Treasures – Elder Stories

Back to Treasures Index

LT Koch 180912 080

Jamie Koch

Honored October 2018

Jamie Koch

It is said that Jamie Koch doesn’t let anything get him down; he has two speeds: full and stop. The comprehensive list of his accomplishments, one wonders if there is a stop speed.
    Jamie is a Santa Fe native. He graduated from UNM on a full athletic scholarship and attained a degree in education with a minor in business. His business career took off when he opened the Santa Fe office of Daniels Insurance. The Independent agents of NM recognized his success with a lifetime achievement award.
    Two NM historic characters were early influences: Ernie Blake, the founder of the Taos Ski Valley, and Elliot Barker, the well known conservationists who was the first game warden in New Mexico and helped found the National Wildlife Foundation.
    Jamie is an avid outdoorsman.  He rides his horses and trains his dogs.  He hasn’t lost his competitive edge; he still competes in and wins medals in Senior Olympics.
    He was a state legislator from 1968 to 1974; was Chairman of the state’s Game and Fish Department for 10 years; and was appointed Regent to UNM for 13 years.  In all these positions, Jamie served with distinction and rose to leadership roles. Described as a fiscal hawk, Jamie was the finance chairman for former Governors Bruce King and Bill Richardson. He was the State Chair of the Democratic Party.
    Jamie Koch is a committed family man, dedicating himself completely to the well being of his family. Having a daughter with disabilities, he knows first hand the needs of the vulnerable and has been a tireless champion on their behalf. He sponsored legislation that created a kindergarten program for the public schools and required them to provide resource rooms for special needs students. He helped adopt the successful Project SEARCH in New Mexico,  a program to help find real jobs in the community for the disadvantaged. His daughter went on to be Homecoming Queen in her high school, and now holds a job with pride.
    Jamie sponsored and helped pass other important pieces of legislation, such as creating the Environmental Improvement Agency and  making mountain lions a protected species. He worked on New Mexicos First Subdivision Act which protected property owners and communities by establishing regulations that provided legal tools for city governments to control land use, commerce, and housing. He sponsored legislation that created and funded the NM Severance Tax Fund with money from Oil and Gas revenues to the state; a fund which is critical to continued funding of our educational institutions in NM. Jamie was a primary sponsor for the state’s Open Meetings Act and the Inspection of Public Records Act which gives the public access to government meetings and records. In 2004 Jamie was recognized for these efforts with the prestigious William S. Dixon Award  by the Foundation for Open Government.
    When Jamie was  Chairman of the state’s Game and Fish Department,  Governor Bruce King  appointed him as the first Natural Resources Trustee. Jamie then was instrumental in establishing the National Trustee Office. Jamie successfully headed the clean up project of a mine contamination in the pristine Terrero and Pecos area. It involved negotiating an agreement between the New Mexico Game and Fish, Environmental and Highway Departments and the mining company. The success of this project prevented a lengthy, expensive super fund and became a national model for state and private cooperating on mine site cleanups.
    As a UNM Regent “he was a voice of fiscal responsibility navigating difficult financial times.” Jamie supported the Lobo Athletics with the renovation of the Pit, to the creation of a Student Success Center so that athletes have the opportunity to excel both athletically and academically. During land negotiations the University was involved in, Jamie ihelped nsured the return of 9.000 acres of the sacred aboriginal homeland, Horn Mesa, to the Cochiti Pueblo. Regis Pecos of the Cochiti Pueblo thanks “his brother, his friend,” Jamie, for saving that land from development. Jamie helped the University get the Cancer Center, which received the highest designation from the National Cancer Institute. He has been a leader in establishing the Parkinson Movement disorder center at UNM.
    Jamie has played a leading role in local civic organizations such as the Santa Fe Boys Club, New Vistas, March of Dimes, The Rotary Club, and Chamber of Commerce.  He was a member of the task force that formed New Mexico Mutual Casualty Company, making it possible for small businesses to obtain Worker’s Compensation at a reasonable rate.
    In his book New Mexico Political History, 1967-2015, Jamie presents a collection of his candid, recorded conversations with key people who have shaped the events of the past 50 years in New Mexico politics.
     US Senator Martin Heinrich refers to Jamie’s environment stewardship in NM as “legendary.” State Senator Peter Wirth says,”Jamie Koch epitomizes what it means to be a public servant; he is a role model for those of us who have followed him in public service.” We are indebted to Jamie, for fiercely fighting to protect our rights, our environment, and improving the lives of all New Mexicans.


Story by Nancy Dahl

Photo © 2018 by Esha Chiocchio