US Army

Kazimierz Szczepaniak

February 25, 1931 ~ May 13, 2019 (age 88)

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Kazimierz Roman Szczepaniak, age 88, passed away peacefully on May 13, at the Joliet Area Community Hospice Home, surrounded by his loving family. Born February 25, 1931 in Poland, to Wiktor and Janina Szczepaniak, he was one of four children. Kaz spent his early years in Warsaw, fought in the Polish Resistance as a teenager and went on to be the sole member of his family to immigrate to the United States at the age of 18.

Blessed with an indomitable spirit, 19 year old Kaz was the first citizen in Cleveland, Ohio to volunteer for the Korean War. A proud member of the Airborne Rangers 4th Company, he served as a field medic and also miraculously survived hemorrhagic fever. He completed college on the GI bill, and after attaining both his BS and MBA, enjoyed a life long career as a chemical engineer working for companies such as L’Aire Liquide. 

In spite of, or possibly because of, the almost insurmountable hardships he experienced in his early years, Kaz went on to lead a rich and fulfilling life. Whether piloting a boat, flying small planes, skiing or cruising on his motorcycles Kaz had boundless energy which was only matched by his inquisitive intellect.

Kaz met Doris, the love of his life, in 1982 while cruising on the Mississippi Delta Queen. His sometimes gruff exterior belied the heart of a romantic and Doris and Kaz  were inseparable, spending 36 happy years together. They enjoyed an endless variety of both short and long motorcycle trips, vacations in Florida and numerous and constant social activities. 

He is preceded in death by his parents, brother (Stefan) and sister (Teresa). Survived by one sister, his twin, Aleksandra (Ola). He is survived by his loving wife Doris who tirelessly and selflessly cared for him during his final struggles with Parkinson’s, never leaving his side. His four children, Michael (Renae), Philip, Anna (Peter Harlan) and Amy (Anne Horrigan) and 5 grandchildren, Erin and Sam, Jonah, Quentin and Theo; stepson Mark Vanover (Mary Knightly).   Also niece Ewa, and many nieces and nephews in Poland.

Loving, generous, unexpectedly hilarious, and a one in a million kind of man, Kaz was a true original, adored by his family and friends. In 2014 he was awarded a Special Medal of Honor by the President of Poland for his bravery in fighting in the Warsaw Uprising. His kindness, strength and generosity live on as both an inspiration and a memory of his huge spirit.

He will be greatly missed.

Visitation from 11am to 1pm on Tuesday, May 21 at Blackburn-Giegerich-Sonntag Funeral Home, followed by interment at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery, with full honor guard. In lieu of flowers his family requests donations be made to the Joliet Area Community Hospice, in gratitude for their outstanding service.

 

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