Alexander S. Mackowiak (aka McCoy), age 94, passed peacefully into eternal life on Saturday, July 11, 2020.
Al was born in Gaylord, Michigan, on May 18, 1926, the youngest child of William and Catherine (Kolany) Mackowiak. He was a lifelong resident of Gaylord, a devout member of St. Mary Cathedral Parish, and a longtime member of St. Mary Cathedral Choir. Al graduated from St. Mary High School, and shortly thereafter entered the United States Army, during which time he served a tour of duty in Germany at the tail end of WWII. Al was a standout athlete in high school, and also played baseball for his unit while in the army. Following his discharge, he was picked up by the Kansas City Royals, but an injury ended his budding career in pro baseball.
Upon returning to his hometown, Al resumed civilian life and soon began courting Barbara Luzenski, whom he married on November 22, 1952. The couple was blessed with six children, and through the years, knew the joy of welcoming ten grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren into their fold.
Al was incredibly proud of his Polish heritage. Over the years, he produced thousands of pounds of his homemade kielbasa, which he loved serving to family and friends, and later, to the general public at Busia’s Polish Kitchen, which he and Barbara owned and operated for many years. He was also the first person on the dance floor whenever a polka was played, and that man knew how to polka.
Al – who many folks around town knew as “Geezo Peezo” – was a huge supporter of his beloved Gaylord and the annual Alpenfest. Every year on the first day of the festival, he would don his lederhosen and head for the Alpenstrasse to do a little dancing, tip back a cold one, and without fail, take the stage at the Karaoke Contest. Geezo loved to sing and took the prize a time or two. But more important to him were the titles he received at the Knee Contest, including but not limited to “Most Scarred,” “Most Bowed,” “Most Tanned,” and eventually, “Oldest.” Yes, for Geezo Peezo, Alpenfest was like Christmas in July.
Al was involved in many community activities, but closest to his heart was coaching Boys Little League. He loved teaching kids the art of the game and helping them discover their own love for the game. In 1969, Al led the Gaylord Little League boys’ majors to Gaylord’s first-ever state title. Many years later, this accomplishment earned him the honor of induction into the Greater Otsego County Sports Hall of Fame.
Al was also an avid sportsman and often sought relief from life’s challenges with a trip to the little cabin on the Black River. There on The Black, his biggest challenge might be the pull of the current against his waders or finding just the right fly to land that big trout or bagging that elusive 10-pointer. That was his happy place, where he was one with nature and closest to his God.
Al lived a full life. May he rest in peace, and may heaven hold for him a baseball diamond, a trout-filled stream, a deer blind just for napping, and God willing, a karaoke machine.
Al was preceded in death by his parents and 12 siblings; his youngest child, Christine Kelly; eldest granddaughter, Erin Lyn Kettlewell; and son-in-law, Jim Billman.
He is survived by his wife, Barbara, his son, David, and daughters, Karen Billman, Julie (Allan) Kettlewell, Jayne Mackowiak, and Ellen (Tom) Smith; grandchildren, Rhiannon (Adam) Baker, Jordan Kettlewell, Erica (Dustin) Kelly, Mallory Kettlewell, Brady Billman, Alex Smith, Caitlin Smith, Dugan Kelly, and Megan Mackowiak (Ryan Ashton); great-grandchildren, Gavin Baker; Austin, Zeke, Isaac and Logan Kettlewell; Nathan and Ada Torres, and Ivy Ashton.
A Mass of Christian Burial will take place on Friday, July 17, at 11 a.m. from St. Mary Cathedral in Gaylord, with visitation at 10 a.m. until the time of service. The family respectfully requests that friends and family please adhere to current mandates regarding masking and social distancing.
For those who wish to honor Al’s life with a memorial contribution, the family asks that donations be directed to St. Mary Cathedral School’s Athletic Fund, through the Nelson Funeral Home, PO Box 1548, Gaylord MI 49734.
13 comments on “Alexander S. Mackowiak”
Mr. Mackowiak was a great example of what a civic leader should be. Our sympathy and prayers to your family!
Karen and family, Al will always have a special place in my heart. What a neat, neat guy. I’m so blessed to have been able to know him! You are all in my thoughts and prayers, and I’m sure Al is dancing away up in Heaven!
I truly can’t remember one time Uncle Al was not smiling & so enjoyed when he would sing, which I’m sure he is doing in Heaven right now.
My wife and I met Al, (at the ’06 Alpenfest, naturally) before we moved up here permanently. While enjoying a few refreshments at the Sugar Bowl, a crooked legged guy in lederhosen with pie on his face sauntered by. I immediately sized this guy up to be a character, and someone that I needed to know. He said that he won the pie eating contest for his age group. I couldn’t believe the guy was 80, we had a friendly discussion regarding his age over a couple beers, until he showed me his drivers license. Al immediately made two “outsiders” feel welcome to Gaylord. We had an instant friend. Additional memories: Al “charming” the Alpenfest Queen’s court by serenading them with the song “All of Me” in the Knee Contest, STM sporting events, karaoke at the Ugly Bar, baseball discussions, Holy Redeemer choir, and his zest for life. He never lost his youth, and he still thought of himself as somewhat of a “ladies man” even in his later years. Towards the end of his life, I shared time with him at Medi-Lodge every Wednesday for weekly Mass, and even got him to sing “That’s Amore”, or “You Make me Feel So Young.” He had a strong handshake right to the end, and loved to give me a “fist bump.” Thanks for your friendship.
My sympathies to Barb and family. They have been family friends for years. Alpenfest will not be the same….Hang on to your memories
Wonderful man and enjoyed life to the fullest. I know you will be dancing in heaven with your loving daughter Cris. R. I.P. Al.
Keeping you all in my prayers. Mr. Mackowiak was a good soul, his is the meaning of “a life well lived”.
Al was one that accepted my family as new comers to the area in 1970. My son and I became involved in Little League right away and he took us under his wing. I became a coach that never played baseball but with Al’s help, I enjoyed my involvement for several years. I will always remember him and be grateful for knowing him over the 40 years we spent in Gaylord. Thanks Al. RIP
My favorite memories of Al were our conversations on the Alpenstrasse at the Sugar Bowl, just the two of us. He was so proud of his kids. He was a hard-working man who took care of his family. He put so much energy into mentoring kids in baseball. I loved listening to him sing around the community, and his rendition of “All Of Me” is why it’s one of my favorite songs to this day. Rest in the joy of heaven, Al!
The loss of a special friend and a very kind man. Every stray or unwanted dog surely knew they would have a “forever home” with Al McCoy, but I believe Poochie was his fav! Such vivid memories of Geezo and Greg Styles stuffing kielbasa at the kitchen sink on 1st Street for Christmas…the best ever! So many fond memories. My condolences to all the McCoys.
Although I did not know Al well, I am grateful for my relationship with his daughter, Julie. He was a big part of my mother, Janet’s, life. I even got to enjoy some of his kielbasa a time or two. My thoughts to the entire extended family.
I met Al at Holy Redeemer when I joined the choir. What a guy as you seen in his obit. I loved seeing him at the Alpenfset and what a voice. My prayers to the entire family.
5 years ago Richie Love introduced me to this extremely charming man donning his lederhosen at the Gaylord Alpenfest. I had the enjoyment of chatting with him, the thrill of watching him enjoy Alpenfest & the extreme pleasure of hearing him sing! Luckily I was able to spend time with him one more time at Alpenfest the next year! Thank you “Geezo” for touching my life, even if only twice! May you Rest In Peace!