Melinda Blinken, born Melinda Frances Koch on March 2, 1939, in Los Angeles to legendary film producer Howard W. Koch and his wife, Ruth Pincus Koch, passed away peacefully at her home in Sun Valley, Idaho, on Oct. 3. She was surrounded by loved ones, including her husband of 51 years, U.S. Ambassador Alan J. Blinken, with whom she shared what family and friends called “a fairytale love story.”
Melinda grew up in Los Angeles and moved to New York City when she was 18 to be in “the cultural center of it all.” She was a graceful, kind, elegant beauty, with a passion for everything that made New York City. She was a force as a philanthropist, friend, mother, grandmother, daughter, wife, sister, and she was an inveterate hostess, adored by all who knew her.
Melinda’s interest in wildlife and conservation drove her to create a docent program at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, where she served as a trustee of the museum from 1988 to 2003, and was named honorary trustee of the museum’s Board of the Center for Biodiversity. She also served on the board of the Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, as the board’s Vice President from 1988 to 1993. While accompanying her husband, the U.S. Ambassador to Belgium from 1993 to 1998, Melinda was the embassy head of cultural affairs related to women’s health issues and served on the board of the Brussels Philharmonic. Upon her return to the U.S., she served on the board of Meridian House International and the Heinz Center for Biodiversity, both in Washington, D.C., and The Advisory Board of the Evelyn Lauder Breast Cancer Foundation, the Board of Directors of the Frank Church Institute, and the Board of Directors of Living with Wolves.
Melinda is survived by her husband, Ambassador Alan J. Blinken; brother, Hawk Koch; her four children, Wendy, Carol Ann, David and Jonathan; and her nine grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers please send donations to the Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, The Evelyn Lauder Breast Cancer Foundation or the American Museum of Natural History.