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Kocher, Livingston named Azalea Festival grand marshals

A husband-and-wife team of community volunteers – Charles Kocher and Gerry Livingston – has been selected to be the grand marshals of the 70th Azalea Festival Parade.

Brookings-Harbor Chamber of Commerce President Les Cohen and Board Member Richard Hayashi ambushed the couple with the news Friday at the Curry Coastal Pilot office.

Chamber President Les Cohen delivers the good news to Charles Kocher and Gerry Livingston at the Pilot office.
Chamber President Les Cohen delivers the good news to Charles Kocher and Gerry Livingston at the Pilot office.

“You’ve done something that doesn’t happen very often: You made me speechless,” Gerry said.

The couple moved to Brookings in 1996 when Charlie became publisher of the Pilot. Gerry is the Educational Talent Search specialist at Brookings-Harbor and Gold Beach high schools. It’s a federal grant program helping high school students plan their futures, administered by Southwestern Oregon Community College.

She also works as the Curry County contact for the Wild Rivers Community Foundation, organizing fundraising and projects.

Then there are all of the activities that keep them both out in the community.

Charlie is a chamber volunteer, helping organize the Business Outlook Conference and the Home Show. He’s active in the Rotary Club, and a board member of groups including the American Music Festival, Brookings-Harbor Scholarship Foundation, Curry County Crime Stoppers and the Azalea Festival Scholarship Pageant. Statewide, he’s a longtime member of the Oregon Geographic Names Board.

Gerry trains and consults with a wide variety of volunteer organizations, she teaches grant writing, and she organizes both the annual Chetco River Checkup for the Chetco Watershed Council, and the Natural Resources Day for third graders. She is a member of the Ford Institute Leadership Program’s Wild Rivers Cohort.

Both Charlie and Gerry are supporters of Southwestern Oregon Community College’s growth in Curry County. They both helped get the ASPIRE program going at BHHS. Both are on the grants review committee for the Gordon Elwood Foundation. Earlier this month, Charlie chaired the Rotary Track Meet while Gerry organized the hospitality tent for coaches and volunteers.   

Married 27 years, Charlie and Gerry have two grown children. KayLee has been living in Hawai’i after attending school there. Morgan graduates May 30 from Linfield College. Both of them plan to be in Brookings working over the summer, returning to lifeguard jobs at the city pool.

Then there’s the exchange students who have stayed with the family. Since they have lived in Brookings those include Pekka from Finland, Gaetan from Belgium, Denise from northern Germany, Marcoandrea from Italy, Fatima from South Africa, Thomas from southern Germany, and David from Ecuador. In turn, both Morgan and KayLee have been “outbound” exchange students.

Charlie and Gerry are active in the Rotary District 5110 Youth Exchange Committee, training and counseling about 50 students each year.

As grand marshals, the Kochers will ride in the Azalea Festival Parade when it steps off at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 23, through downtown Brookings.

“That means less help for the Rotary Shrimp luncheon,” Charlie told Cohen when the grand marshal award was announced.

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