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Columbia College to recognize Gene & Fran Koepke Oct. 16

On Saturday, October 16 at 1:30 p.m., Columbia College will recognize Cougar Club founding members Gene and Fran Koepke for a generous gift. A special dedication ceremony will take place during Columbia College Family Day/Homecoming weekend naming the new fitness facility the Gene and Fran Koepke Fitness Center.

"We are truly grateful and appreciate very much the Koepke's loyalty and depth of support not only for our athletic program but for the college as a whole," said Dr. Gerald Brouder, president of Columbia College. "The Koepke family were key players in developing the Cougar Club and are continually seen courtside cheering for the Cougars."

In addition to the Cougar Club & Scholarship Fund that supports student-athlete excellence across all Columbia College sports, including men's and women's basketball, men's soccer, women's volleyball and softball, they are on the Columbia College Athletic Hall of Fame committee, Cougar Club steering committee and are members of the institution's President's Society - Charter Circle.

In 1996, the Koepkes received the Athletic Director's Award for Outstanding Contributions to Cougar Athletics and were 2006 and 2007 honorary coaches for the NAIA Volleyball tournament. The couple was inducted into the Columbia College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008 and Gene was made an honorary basketball coach in 2009, when the Cougars played for the national championship.

Fran Koepke is the daughter of the late trustee emeritus, J.W. ("Stan") and Lois Stafford, among Columbia College's largest contributors. The Stafford family were the lead contributors to the Southwell Complex and their name can be found on the college's library. Fran graduated from Capital Business College in 1969, where she met Gene. Gene worked for the Department of Corrections for 10 years before joining Fran at her family-owned business, Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company of Columbia, Inc. Gene and Fran have two children, Laura and Mark.

Columbia College, a private, nonprofit institution founded in 1851 in Columbia, Mo., educates more than 29,000 students each year and has more than 64,000 alumni worldwide. For more information, visit