Friends and colleagues are remembering former Frederick city alderman David “Kip” Koontz as a public servant who served his constituents with passion and righteousness.
“He was certainly dedicated to the city, and to changing things,” said former alderman Donna Kuzemchak. “He will be missed. There’s not a whole lot more to say.”
Koontz, the first openly gay man elected to public office in Frederick, died unexpectedly Sunday at his home in Frederick. He was 48.
During his term, from 2005-09, Koontz was a staunch supporter of the city police, the arts district, affordable housing and an adequate public facilities ordinance designed to ensure the city's infrastructure could handle growth.
Koontz served as liaison to the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, and bumped heads with former Mayor Jeff Holtzinger in regard to the mayor’s handling of violations of historic commission guidelines.
“Even though we disagreed on different topics, [Koontz] had a sense of humor about it, and we left our disagreements in the board room,” Holtzinger said. “I was very sorry to hear about his death. It’s a real shame.”
Koontz lost his bid for re-election in 2009.
“That was rough on him,” said longtime friend John Ashbury, the publisher of an online political commentary magazine for Frederick. Koontz wrote for the magazine from 2002 to 2005.
Prior to his term as alderman, Koontz served on several boards and commissions, including as chairman of the Western Maryland Gay and Lesbian Justice Campaign. In that role in 1999, Koontz tried but failed to get the Board of County Commissioners to request state legislation to ban discrimination in employment, housing or public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation.
“Certainly he had a huge, huge personality and obviously a mouth to match,” said his longtime partner, J.D. Hulse. “One of the things that attracted me to him was that he had a vision for the world for equality, peace and acceptance.”
Koontz worked for many years as an account executive for Comcast. At the time of his death, he was employed by Scotts Lawn Service, handling outside sales.
He seemed at peace, Hulse said, and found a renewed faith, attending services at the Evangelical Lutheran Church on Good Friday and Easter morning — the day of his death.
“David was there singing all the hymns with such gusto,” said Anita Stup, former county commissioner and state delegate. “I gave him a kiss, then later I got a phone call that he had died.
“Whoever you love, you better hug them today, because you just don’t know,” Stup said.
Mayor Randy McClement ordered The City of Frederick Flag to be flown at half-staff for a 24-hour period starting sunrise, April 11 and ending sunrise April 12.
A celebration of Koontz’s life is tentatively scheduled for 6 p.m. April 20 at Evangelical Lutheran Church, 31 E. Church St., Frederick. Officiating will be the Rev. Dr. Robert Driver-Bishop.