Thomas S. Kosakowski ’73 died on March 21, 2017, in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
(The following was published in The Argus Leader on Aprirl 2, 2017:)
Thomas Stanley Kosakowski, 65, was born to Thaddeus and Nellie Kosakowski December 4, 1951 in Southbridge, Massachusetts, died at home March 21, 2017.
Tom spent his formative years in Southbridge. His family lived in the same house as his maternal grandmother and neighbors on both sides of their house were relatives so their home was the focal point of many family gatherings. He, his sister, Ann, and his cousins made many special memories there. His family attended St. Hedwig’s Catholic Church where he served as an altar boy. The paternal side of his family owned a cottage on Leadmine Pond where his family spent many carefree hours exploring, fishing, swimming and boating.
He started taking piano lessons at a very young age from his uncle and his giftedness was nurtured. His mother sat beside him at the piano to monitor his progress. His father, an avid baseball fan, made sure that ‘Tommy” was versed in the game of baseball in which he also excelled.
During his junior high and high school years, Tom’s abilities in math and science became evident and he participated in many science fairs. Tom graduated from Southbridge High School in 1969. He was valedictorian of his class, president of the National Honor Society, accompanist for the choir and co-captain of the baseball team. Tom was a true ‘Renaissance Man’ gifted in academics, athletics and the arts.
Following high school, Tom went to Bowdoin College in Maine to study physics. He graduated in 1973, Summa Cum Laude, with a double major in physics and music. He continued on with his education at Occidental College in Eagle Rock, California, graduating in 1975 with a Master of Arts in music with an emphasis on piano accompanying.
After college, Tom stayed in the Los Angeles area and served as accompanist at Bethany Evangelical Lutheran Church. It was during this time that he gave his life to the Lord. He worked as a staff accompanist in the music department of Los Angeles City College, and it was there that he met Cheryl Anne Roraff who was to become his wife. Tom and Cheryl were wed on July 28, 1979 and were married for 38 years before Tom’s death. The Kosakowskis were blessed with two children, Philip Ryan born in 1987 and Rachel Elizabeth born in 1990. Also in the Los Angeles area Tom used his math skills in several occupations.
In 1992 Tom and Cheryl moved to Miller, South Dakota to work at Sunshine Bible Academy. Tom was business manager and Cheryl taught music. They raised their family and served there for 17 years. During this time the Kosakowskis served as musicians at St. Lawrence Community Church.
The Kosakowskis left Sunshine and went to Massachusetts to take care of Tom’s aging mother in 2009. They stayed there for five years, living in the home Tom’s grandparents built and serving as musicians at Charlton City United Methodist Church.
In December of 2010, Tom and Cheryl’s son, Philip, married Jenny Lynne Pridey. The following April on Philip’s birthday, Tom was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Tom was treated in Worchester and Boston. He went into remission and spent a year in seclusion. Tom was in remission and life was good!
Life got even better on August 21, 2012 when Avery Lynne Kosakowski graced the world with her presence. She brought much joy with her. In 2014, Tom and Cheryl decided that 1,500 miles was too far between them and their granddaughter so they moved back to Sioux Falls, South Dakota to be near their family. Upon their return to South Dakota, the Kosakowskis worked for a short period of time as fundraisers for Sunshine Bible Academy in its ongoing building program. This was cut short, however, when Tom received the news that his cancer had returned. After treatment, he went into remission but after a short time the leukemia returned again. Treatments were tried, but failed, and Tom returned home on hospice on March 4, 2017.
It was there he died on March 21, 2017.
Tom loved serving the Lord with his gift of music. He loved serving in small churches. He will be remembered for his sensitive piano accompanying. He was always a gentleman, especially at the keyboard. See you later Tom…until we meet again.