Gather Together
Share the Stories

Chester Koceski

July 2, 1922 - December 29, 2016
Grand Rapids, MI



Monday, January 2, 2017
3:00 PM to 6:00 PM EST
Stroo Funeral Home
1095 68th St SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49508
(616) 455-9280


Tuesday, January 3, 2017
10:30 AM EST
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
1418 Baldwin Street
Jenison, MI 49428


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.

Holy Cross Foundation
1418 Baldwin
Jenison, MI 49428

Life Story / Obituary


With a life that spanned times of war and times of peace, times of plenty and times of want, Chester Koceski was an extraordinary man to know and love. He was steadfast, hardworking, and known to be a man of his word who would do whatever he could to help those around him. Chester was a loving husband and father who lived to spend time with his grandchildren later in life. A longtime resident of Manchester he loved, he had a warm and genuine personality that drew others near with ease. Life will never be the same without Chester here, but he leaves behind a timeless legacy that his loved ones will proudly carry on in his footsteps.

It was great to be an American during the decade that we commonly recall as the Roaring Twenties. It was the decade that celebrated advancements like the washing machine and refrigerator while cars that were mass produced on assembly lines made them more affordable for the average American. Amidst this exciting time was the year 1922 when Leon and Blanche (Krucienski) Koceski were eagerly awaiting the birth of their new baby as July unfolded in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. Their wait was over on July 2nd when the baby boy they named Chester Carl drew his first breath. He was one of nine children in the Koceski clan as he was joined in the family by his brothers, Tony, Paul, Isadore “Hawk,” and Leo, and his sisters, Sophie, Stella, Jennie, and Gertrude. Chester’s father worked in the steel mills in Pittsburgh while his mother had more than enough to keep her busy at home.

Raised in the family home on Blaine Avenue in Canonsburg, Chester was a young boy of his generation. He helped around the house as needed including helping his mom wash the basement after she finished the laundry and helping in the garden as well. Chester could often be found playing baseball in the street with the neighborhood kids, and his best friend was Mike Kavalacus. As a family they enjoyed family picnics, and it was commonplace for Chester and his siblings to play cards together. He attended Canonsburg school and liked mathematics. As a student at Canonsburg High School he ran cross country and was on the wrestling team.

After graduating from high school in 1941, Chester was eager for all that life had in store. He joined the NYA, a training school for military and other trades. From there he worked in a munitions factory making anti aircraft shells. In 1942 Chester was drafted and spent the three years that followed serving in the United States Army Air Corps as a radio repairman for ground equipment serving in Ireland, England, France, and Germany as part of the European Theatre of Operations. He returned stateside in 1945. Using the GI Bill, Chester earned his teaching degree from Waynesburg College, majoring in math and science. Soon after, Chester accepted a teaching position in Michigan while his brother, Leo, was attending the University of Michigan. Chester eventually got his master’s degree from the University of Michigan. He spent his entire career inspiring students, first teaching math in Covert, Michigan, and later as a high school principal in Gobles and Manchester. Passionate and dedicated to public education, Chester retired in 1979, but never stopped learning or teaching others.

It was quite fateful that he came to Michigan as it was there that Chester met the love of his life. Her name was Florence Dorow, and they met at a dance at the Crystal Palace in Coloma. Chester always did enjoy big bands and dancing, especially polka. He and Florence soon discovered they were a perfect match, and the sparks flew. They began dating and quickly found themselves deeply in love. With a desire to spend the rest of their lives together, Chester and Florence were married in 1954. Together they were blessed with the births of three children, Kurt in 1956, Timothy in 1958, and Amy in 1963. Some of their best family memories were made at Wamplers Lake, and there were also annual trips to Pennsylvania to visit relatives. Chester was very involved in his kids’ lives and never missed a sporting event or school activity.

There were so many things that kept Chester busy through the years. He and his wife were faithful members of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Ann Arbor, usually attending the 8:15 a.m. service. During his retirement years Chester had more time for doing the things he loved with the people he loved. He and Florence traveled quite a bit with trips to Hawaii, New England, Florida, and Colorado being among some of their favorites, and they took a train trip to New Orleans. They also attended many concerts together. However, what Chester loved doing most was spending time with his grandchildren. On his 90th birthday, he loved celebrating with his family and gave each grandchild $90. For as long as he was able, Chester enjoyed gardening and reading, and he was a very talented cook who was known for his shrimp gumbo. As his family and friends can attest, he was an avid fan of University of Michigan sports.

All who knew Chester Koceski would agree that he was one of the most genuine, kindhearted, and giving people around. He was assertive when needed, but he was always respectful of all who were near. Chester was deeply devoted to his loved ones, and he was so blessed to share the majority of his life with his soul mate. Deeply loved, he will never be forgotten.

Chester Carl Koceski, of Jenison, formerly of Manchester, passed away on Thursday, December 29, 2016. Chester’s family includes his wife, Florence; children, Kurt (Debbie) Koceski, Timothy (Wendy) Koceski, Amy (Kevin) Middendorf; grandchildren, Scott Koceski, Melanie Koceski, Sean Koceski, Kyle Koceski, Morgan Middendorf, Max Middendorf; sister, Gertie Rozanc; brother, Leo and Gloria Koceski; sisters-in-law, Dorothy Dorow, and Eleanor Dorow; many special nieces and nephews. Preceding him in death are his parents; three sisters and three brothers.

The funeral service will be held 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, January 3, at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 1481 Baldwin St., with Pastor Scott Sommerfeld officiating. Interment in Riverview Cemetery, St. Joseph, MI. Memorial contributions may be made to Holy Cross Foundation, 1481 Baldwin St, Jenison, MI 49428. The family will greet relatives and friends on Monday from 3 - 6 p.m. at the funeral home, and Tuesday from 9:30 - 10:30 a.m. prior to the service at the church.