May 19, 2007
BERLIN HEIGHTS Thomas R. Koba, 61, of Berlin Heights, died following complications from an existing heart condition early Saturday at Fisher-Titus Medical Center in Norwalk.
A Civil War buff and filmmaker, he produced more than a dozen feature documentaries.
Koba's interest in movies and filmmaking began with home movie 8-mm one-reelers in the 20th Street Lorain neighborhood, where he grew up in the late 1950s. His late parents, Laurline (Kern) and Felix Koba, encouraged his movie making enthusiasm and made the Koba household from attic to basement available 'sets' for his mini 'Hollywood' epics.
While attending Admiral King high school in Lorain, he and fellow high school students produced and directed "The True Glory", a World War II-era film, which premiered at the Dreamland Theatre in downtown Lorain.
After earning a bachelor of fine arts in film studies from Ohio University in Athens, he taught at Norwalk Middle School and conducted a course in photography at Firelands College. Later he started an ad agency, Koba & Co Productions, producing TV and radio commercials, print advertising campaigns and industrial-training videos. Koba produced two documentaries on Ohio born poets. They aired on PBS.
In 2004, he premiered "One Saturday Afternoon," a documentary about the tornado that devastated Lorain and Sandusky in 1924. He toured local libraries and civic organizations, showing the film to rave revues. The film contained some chilling interviews with local eyewitnesses to the disaster. He was a trustee of Friends and Descendants of Johnson's Island, a former trustee of Johnson's Island Preservation Society and a member of the Firelands Civil War Roundtable.
He also produced "Buckeye Blue" a look at Ohio's role in the Civil War, "Rebel Fire, Yankee Ice" retracing the historic events of Johnson's Island, "Hotel Victory," a nostalgic view of Lake Erie's grand lady hotel and "Sweet Water Lady" the Marblehead Lighthouse story.
He is survived by his long-term companion and business partner, Jennifer Wertz; children and their spouses, Thomas M. (Karen) Koba of Huron, Sarah (Shawn) Lewis of Flordia, and Michael and Liz Koba of Norwalk; four grandchildren; and a sister, Kathy Dodson of North Fairfield.
Friends may call from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday at Toft Funeral Home & Crematory, 2001 Columbus Ave., Sandusky, where services will take place at 1 p.m. Burial will be in Riverside Cemetery, Berlin Heights.