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.