Life Story Visitation
Tuesday, April 11, 2023
11:00 AM EDT
St. John Bosco Catholic Church
23830 Front Street
Mattawan, MI 49071
Lunch will follow mass in the church hall.
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
As family and friends can certainly attest, Jim “Koz” Kozminske truly understood the secret to a life well lived. He was a constant source of strength, even in the most difficult of times, and he always had an encouraging word to say. Nothing brought Koz greater joy than spending time with his loved ones. He was a shining example of kindness and generosity, and his insatiable zest for life was a spark to all around him. Deeply missed, Jim will be forever missed by those who knew him best.
It only seems fitting that Jim’s story began during a time that was as vibrant as he was. It was a time when James Dean and Marilyn Monroe became household names, and when Elvis Presley burst onto the scene with his rock ’n roll music the world of music was never the same. It was on December 17, 1951, that Clarence and Carolyn Kozminske were pleased to announce the birth of the baby boy they named Jim in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Growing up, Jim was a typical young man of his generation. He was raised in the family home in Mattawan alongside his seven siblings, Sharon, David, Patricia, Joseph, Connie, Kathy, and Thomas. Jim was nicknamed “Narc” by his siblings. His parents owned the Rush Inn Bar in Mattawan, so much of Jim’s childhood was spent behind the bar or helping with the bar’s various building projects. He even helped dig the basement using 5-gallon buckets. Since Koz was from a Polish Catholic family, he grew up in the church, serving as an altar boy. He delivered newspapers as well, forming the foundation of his solid work ethic at a young age.
While pursuing his education, Jim attended local schools, including St. John Bosco Grade School and later Hackett High School. He balanced his studies with his love for sports and music. Koz was involved with little league baseball and football. He excelled at football and was a prized quarterback. Jim also played the saxophone for the Odyssey with his brother David. He graduated from Hackett High School in 1970, then went on to attend Kalamazoo Valley Community College, where he earned his associate’s degree in business.
Throughout his childhood, Jim and the Kozminske family grew up near the Ruzicks, a Polish Catholic family who owned a Mattawan gas station. Judy Ruzick lived above the gas station. Jim first met Judy when they were young, and it was quite memorable as he flung mud in her face! The two continued to grow up together as they attended the same schools, and their families were quite close. However, new and exciting changes were on the horizon for Koz when his relationship with Judy shifted. The two were at a party in the summer of 1969, and they felt an instant connection. It didn’t take long for the couple to realize that they were made for each other. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together, Jim and Judy were married by Father Palmer on May 20, 1972, at St. John Bosco. The newlyweds spent a weekend in California, then traveled to Hawaii to enjoy a two-week honeymoon before settling down above the family bar in Mattawan.
All who knew Koz can surely agree that, of all the things he loved in life, he treasured his loved ones above all else. He and Judy were overjoyed to welcome their three beloved children, Kristie, James, and Luke, into their hearts and home. Jim thrived in his role as a father and loved being involved in the lives of his children. He coached their various sports teams, and though he could be tough on Kristie, James, and Luke, he instilled in them the importance of a strong work ethic and always made sure they knew how much they were loved. Later in life, Koz was thrilled to become a grandfather. He adored his grandchildren and doted on them whenever he could IN true Koz humor, Jim came up with “Hot Dog” instead of “Grandpa” for what the grandkids called him. Since they lived in the Kozminke's Compound it was easy for the grandkids to sneak over to spy and play pranks on him. He would come out and yell while the kids scramble to run home. Jim was honored to be a long-time caregiver to Luke, and he also helped care for his mother after his father passed away. He always considered himself blessed to be surrounded by so many loved ones.
When it came to providing for himself and those who depended on him, Jim was never afraid to work hard. “Do it right the first time” and “if you have time to lean you have time to clean” were two of his frequently used phrases. He worked various construction jobs and ran the Rush Inn Bar. To Jim, the bar was so much more than a business - it was his calling in life. He loved playing music from the fifties and sixties in the bar. Koz strove to shape the bar into the bustling hub of the community, where events and meetings of all kinds could be held. His work paid off, and the Rush Inn Bar truly became a heartbeat of the Mattawan area.
In everything he did, Koz poured his soul into his community. He coached local sports teams for children, even after his own children had grown out of the programs. Jim was a key factor in fundraising for and eventually building the Mattawan Little League Fields. He served as a sexton at the Maple Grove Cemetery for many years. On Christmas Eve, Jim would play Santa Claus and Judy Mrs. Claus at the bar and, through the Lion’s Club, he was able to pass out (or throw) candy and toys to the children for 25 years. If people didn’t have a place to go on Thanksgiving, Jim and Judy would invite them to the Rush Inn Bar. Koz was an avid supporter of the Special Olympics and Luke’s talent shows. He was also involved with countless school fundraisers, as well as the March of Dimes and the Lions Club. Jim and Judy were a great team, and they loved serving their community in whatever way they could.
Never one to sit still, Koz pursued many hobbies to stay busy in his free time. He loved sports, and he took playing on the Rush Inn Baseball Team very seriously. He was skilled with wood and even built his own house, several doll houses, and countless pieces of furniture. Jim liked inventing and creating things. He loved decorating the house and the bar for all seasons and holidays. Jim modeled his life after John Wayne and enjoyed watching old western movies. He loved his rocking chair and was usually seen eating M&M’s and picking his teeth while watching an old western. Koz could be recognized by his black bowtie or his baseball cap. He loved listening to bands playing at the bar and doing projects for countless family members and friends with his son, Luke. Koz was also called Mr. Fix-It for his ability to engineer and solve any problem and always took the time to do it right. Instead of traveling, Jim put in a beautiful pool and lit sand volleyball court. Many great memories were made in the Kozminske’s back yard.
When reflecting on the life of Jim “Koz” Kozminske, it is easy to see both his unwavering strength and his unconditional love for his family. He was always willing to go above and beyond to serve others. Jim’s primary focus in life was fostering deep and personal relationships with those in his community. He was well known for his generosity, and his big heart allowed him to touch the lives of countless others in so many ways. Though he will be dearly missed, Koz leaves behind a priceless legacy that his loved ones will be proud to carry on in his footsteps.
Jim “Koz” Kozminske, of Mattawan, Age 71, died April 4, 2023 at his home. Surviving are his wife of 50 years, Judy Kozminske; 3 children: Kristie (Jim) Thrasher, James II (Sindi) Kozminske and Louis “Luke” Kozminske; 5 grandchildren: Emma, Lauren, Justin Bornamann, Justina and Drake; 6 siblings: Sharon (Andrew) Armstrong, David (Aura) Kozminske, Patricia Kozminske, Joseph Kozminske, Connie (Rick) Kerley and Kathy Kozminske (Norm Theoret); sister-in-law, Dwana Kozminske; mother-in-law, Josephine Ruzick and many nieces and nephews. Preceded in death by his parents: Clarence and Carolyn Kozminske; brother, Thomas “Bert” Kozminske and nephew, Derrick Kerley. Please join us at a Life Story Visitation where food, drinks and stories will be shared on Monday (APR 10) from 4-7PM at Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo, MI 49009 (269) 375-2900 where rosary will be recited at 3:30PM. Mass will be celebrated Tuesday (APR 11) 11AM at St. John Bosco Church, Mattawan, followed by a luncheon. Visit Jim’s webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos and sign his guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Special Olympics or St. John Bosco St. Vincent DePaul.