Robert L. Kovach, former mayor of Mishawaka, passed away peacefully at home in Mishawaka on November 20, 2022.
Bob is survived by his wife of 28 years, Barbara (Klotz) Kovach; two daughters, Kristi (James) Hough and Kathryn Kovach; and two stepsons, David Szeltner, and Joseph (Michelle) Szeltner. He is also survived by eight grandchildren, Hannah Kovach, Olivia Szeltner, Tyler Szeltner, Adrianna Szeltner, Arran Szeltner, Aiden Szeltner, Alexander Szeltner, Avery Szeltner, and three great grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his father, Rudolph Kovach Sr.; mother, Barbara (Norris) Wells; stepfather, Harold Wells; brother, Rudolph Jr.; and wife, Karen (Baughman) Kovach.
Bob dedicated his life to education and public service. After graduating from Mishawaka High School in 1959, Bob earned a Bachelor of Science in Education and a Master of Science in Social Science and English from Ball State University. He was employed by the South Bend Community School Corporation from 1965 to 1989 as a classroom teacher at Lincoln School, Riley High School, and as a visiting counselor in the Lasalle district. During his career, he was proud to serve on three school boards – School City of Mishawaka, Indiana School for the Deaf, and the Indiana State School Board.
In 1968, Bob began his career in politics and was elected councilman at large in Mishawaka where he served as President of Council from 1972 to 1974. He then was elected Indiana State Senator for District 11 from 1974 to 1978 and Mayor of Mishawaka from 1980 to 1983. In January 1990, Bob was appointed as the Executive Liaison to the Senate for Governor Evan Bayh. From March 1990 through December 1992, he served as Executive Director of the Indiana Department of Commerce and was Lieutenant Governor Frank O’Bannon’s Executive Assistant and Chief of Staff from 1993 to 1996. When Frank was elected governor, Bob became the Legislative Director from January 1997 to July 2001. During his time serving in the Bayh and O’Bannon administrations, Bob was awarded two Sagamore of the Wabash awards for his service to the State of Indiana.
Upon leaving Indianapolis, he served as the Executive Director of Economic Development and Workplace Learning Programs at Ivy Tech State College from August 2001 to January 2004 in Elkhart, IN. Bob was appointed and then elected St. Joseph County Commissioner serving from April 2007 to December 2012. Since his retirement from public service, he spent time as a consultant for R&R Benefits in South Bend.
Bob loved golf. He enjoyed playing golf, watching golf, and talking about golf. In retirement, if he wasn’t home molding the young minds of his grandchildren, he could be found having lunch on Thursdays at Oliva’s with longtime friends, or in a fierce game of euchre at the BK Club.
Hahn Funeral Home has been entrusted with handling the final arrangements. There will be a private family service with burial taking place at Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens. Memorial contributions may be made to the Mishawaka Education Foundation, 1402 S. Main Street, Mishawaka, IN 46544.
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