Stories and Condolences for the late Garry Peter Kozuska
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July 5, 1951 - June 10, 2016
Garry Kozuska passed away at home with his family at his side on Friday, June 10, 2016, at the age of 64 years.
He will be lovingly remembered by wife Faye Kozuska; daughter Rachel Kozuska; son Dave (Mia) Kozuska and three grandchildren Terek, Drake and Oliver.
According to his wishes, cremation has taken place and a private celebration of his life will be held.
Written by David Kozuska
My Father, Garry Kozuska, was born July 5th, 1951, to Steve and Sophie Kozuska. He grew up in Point Douglas with his sister, Barbara, and his brother, Mitch. When he passed, his parents and both his brother and sister were already waiting for him with open arms. My father didn’t speak much about his childhood but when he did it was with happy memories. I heard about how his mother would spoil him because he was the youngest. He would get the best cut of steak, put BBQ sauce all over it, while Mitch barked about how he was ruining it. Then once no one else could eat it, he would say he didn’t want it anymore and ask for a hot dog. I heard about his six hour drives to Winnipeg Beach in the back of his dad’s dump truck because his dad refused to drive faster than 40 km\hr no matter how many cars were lined up behind them. I heard about how kind, gentle and patient my Aunt Barbara was when she would take care of him. I heard about the times my Uncle Mitch would take him in the basket of his bike to go watch while he played football with his friends. I heard about his pet chicken JoJo who mysteriously went missing the night after a feast. My father never ate chicken again after that day.
When my father was 13 he met my mother Faye Mayer. I have a gold ring with a G on it that is now bent and deformed from all the times my mother apparently threw it at him. But despite the rocky years of teenage love on May 6th, 1971, my parents were officially married. But that wasn’t the beginning. Sometime previous to this my parents eloped. My mother was born in Haifa, Israel. My grandparents refused to let her marry a non-Jewish man. They ran away together and lived at Winnipeg Beach. After some time apart my grandparents decided it was better to gain a son then lose a daughter. My grandfather went to them and told them that they would unconditionally accept my father. But that wasn’t good enough for my father. His love for my mother was stronger than religion. So to prove his love my father took classes and converted to Judaism. Complete with being circumcised in his early 20’s. If that doesn’t prove your love I don’t know what does! Up until the day my father passed I didn’t hear him call my grandparents anything but mom and dad.
On January 3rd, 1975, my sister, Rachel Stephanie Kozuska was born. She was daddy’s little girl from day 1 and still is to this day. I heard the stories of how she wouldn’t want anyone else to hold her and how only my father could put her to sleep. He would sing her, and later myself, the classic lullaby’s “Stu Ball” and “You are My Sunshine”, which I have sang to my son. My sister lived with my father until his passing. She, along with my mother, were his primary care givers. In the end no one but my sister was able to put my father to sleep. I credit her with helping my father live as long as he did. Her sacrifices for his wellbeing were exactly what you would expect from daddy’s girl.
On November 6th, 1979, I, David Stephen Kozuska was born. I struggle to put into words everything my father meant to me. He taught me everything, he was my hockey coach and long-time baseball coach but he was my life teacher. The first year I played hockey my dad put skates on me and sent me on the ice. I could skate like the wind, the problem was stopping. He told me I didn’t stop until I hit the boards. Before next season he was determined to teach me to stop. He took me to the rink but he left my stick and puck in the car. He put a line on the ice and made me skate back and forth. I hated it. Non-stop there and back, there and back no matter how much I complained he wouldn’t let me quit. I didn’t understand. All the other kids were playing hockey and laughing with their dads but I was being punished because I couldn’t stop. Then it happened. I skated at my dad, angry, as fast as I could. I was going to bowl him over, but instead I did a perfect 2 footed hockey stop. I’ll never forget how my dad looked at me. He couldn’t have been more proud if I had scored the game winning goal in the Stanley Cup. In that moment I realized that if I worked hard and never gave up I could do anything. My dad already knew that of course. From that day to this I never let anyone tell me I couldn’t do something and I never will. Thank you dad.
On September 6th, 2005, my nephew Terek Max Keelan Kozuska was born. Terek quickly replaced me as “Papas” favorite Kozuska boy. I watched as my father relive my youth with Terek. He moved a bit slower but that didn’t stop him from going tobogganing, wrestling, face painting, playing hide and seek, throwing a football and of course becoming Terek’s baseball coach. He coached Terek up until last season and there was nothing he loved more. He was the most amazing and committed coach you can ask for, as most of my friends can tell you. But of all his players Terek will always be his favorite. I once asked my dad what his final wish was. His reply was, “I just want to go home and watch Terek play baseball”. The night he passed, the last thing he did was watch Terek play. He was so proud that Terek made the AAA team. Not everyone got to go out after doing the last thing they loved, my father did.
On August 23, 2014, I got married and my father gained a daughter, Mia Van Helden, and a grandson, Drake Van Helden. My father loved them from the beginning. Whether it was at family dinners, sitting on the chair swing with Drake in his backyard or cracking jokes with Mia, he cherished his short time with them. There’s nothing he loved more than having us all together no matter the reason.
On December 7th, 2015, my son Oliver Jack Rubin Kozuska was born. My father loved Ollie as much as any person could for the short time he had. Although Ollie will never know my father’s touch, he will know my father. Through me he will know my father’s loving smile, his sense of humour, his work ethic, his calmness under pressure, his generosity, and his total devotion to family.
On June 10th, 2016, my father lost his battle with Cancer. I was beside him when the doctor told him he had days, maybe weeks to live. He lived for 5 ½ months. The first thing he said to me was make sure your sister and your mom are looked after. He didn’t think of himself in that moment. He never once complained and never once felt sorry for himself. He was proud of everything he accomplished. He was a happy man. A great man. Don’t be sad he’s gone. Be happy he was here.
We love you, Garry, Papa, Dad.
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