Chief Elf of Indiana

Santa Claus, Ind.

The Chief Elf of Santa Claus, Indiana has just received the state’s highest award for her life of service to the community.

Governor Eric Holcomb said on Friday this year’s Sachem Award recipient is southern Indiana leader Patricia (Pat) Koch, one of the original partners of Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari in southern Indiana.

The annual award recognizes an individual whose lifetime of excellence and moral virtue has brought credit and honor to Indiana. Recipients are selected by the state’s governor.

“Pat Koch is a southern Indiana powerhouse who put Santa Claus, Indiana on the map,” Holcomb said in a press release. “The fundamental theme of her life’s work is to serve others. Pat embraces her fellow Hoosiers with love and kindness.”

According to the governor, Koch began her life of service by entering the community of the Daughters of Charity St. Vincent De Paul. While she studied at St. Louis University, Koch became a registered nurse. Koch made the difficult decision to leave the order when her father became ill.

Later in life, she married her late husband Bill Koch and they operated Santa Claus Land, which is now known as Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari.

“Koch made a lasting impact on the community through volunteerism and hospitality,” Holcomb said. “In 2006, Koch founded the Santa Claus Museum and still holds the title of Chief Elf of the Santa’s Elves who help Santa answer letters sent from children around the world.”

A ceremony to celebrate Koch’s achievement will be conducted at the Will Koch Family Auditorium at Heritage Hills High School on Friday, Dec. 2.  Pat was born in Mariah Hill, Indiana.

Sachem (Say-chum) background:

In 1970, Gov. Edgar D. Whitcomb introduced the Sachems, a group of business, industry, publishing, banking and legal leaders, who served as state hosts, welcoming visitors to Indiana and promoting the state’s culture and economy. The organization’s name came from the Algonquin term applied to village leaders, implying wisdom, judgment and grace.

Following Whitcomb’s term, the Sachem project was not pursued, and the organization dissolved in 1989. Whitcomb visited Gov. Daniels in 2005 to acquaint him with the concept. Gov. Daniels recreated the Sachem to underscore the importance of moral example; achievement alone without exemplary virtue does not qualify a person for this recognition.

Including Koch, 17 Sachem awards have been bestowed since the honor was revived in 2005. Each Sachem honoree receives a specially designed sculpture. All Sachem recipients are selected by Indiana’s governor. Click HERE for a complete list of recipients.