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Leon A. “Leo” Koscielniak

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Leon Koscielniak (aka Jaja, The Judge, Judgster, or Leo) polka danced his way into heaven on December 20, 2020, where his forever dance partner Louise (aka Nana, Nun, The Nunster) was eagerly awaiting his arrival with her dancing shoes on. Just 2 days shy of his 92nd birthday, we know his granddaughter Lindsey Koscielniak has a beautifully delicious cake ready to help him celebrate, and Nana with a fresh deck of cards is ready to get a game of rummy going with all their family and friends that have gone before him.

An avid outdoorsman, Jaja loved spending time with his son Matthew, and his grandson Nick on their summer fishing trips to Canada, and was always sure to get his annual naps in while in his hunting blind every November. If you did catch Jaja indoors, it’s likely he had his right hand busy pulling the arm of the slot machine, and his left hand holding a cold Mt. Dew. Whether outdoors or indoors, one thing was for sure – he always had a smile on his face and made sure everyone around him did too.

You would be hard-pressed to find a local Gaylord street that didn’t have a house on it that was built by Leo. One of his favorite things to do was to be building something or other in his garage workshop; everything from birdhouses, to cabinets for friends, and items to contribute to the Gaylord St. Mary’s church.

Jaja has joined forces with Nana in watching over his 4 children, Janet Bresbois, Geriann Koscielniak, Mary (Jim) Payne, Matthew (Beth) Koscielniak; as well his 6 grandchildren, Nick Koscielniak, Jaime (JJ) Buckingham, Terra Payne, Travis Payne, Robbie (Dr. Caitlin) Payne, Alex Payne; 3 great-grandchildren, Liam and Elliot Buckingham and Clayton Payne; and his favorite dog to dog-sit, Roxie.

Leo will once again be with his dear parents, Anthony and Mary; his granddaughter Lindsey Koscielniak; and his sister Clara Dobrzelewski.

His spirit will be shining bright with his favorite saying in our hearts, “every day may not be good, but there’s something good in every day, so be happy and be thankful!”

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a memorial mass and committal service at St. Thomas Cemetery in Elmira, MI, will be held in the spring of 2021.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Habitat for Humanity or to Breast Cancer Research.

Arrangements were entrusted to Nelson Funeral Home & Cremation Service, PO Box 1548, Gaylord, MI 49734.

34 comments on “Leon A. “Leo” Koscielniak”

  1. We will certainly miss Uncle Leo. My Kaitlyn and Lauren called him “Uncle Caterpillar “ because when they were little he showed them a caterpillar out of his beautiful roses. My Molly just adored visiting him in the summer. He gave her a Petoskey stone once and she has treasured it ever since. Even though we can not be together at this time, we send our love and prayers to all of our cousins. Janet, Matt, Mary and Geri, know you are in our hearts.

    • Jim & Barb Lappan

      Rest in Peace my dear old friend and neighbor. So many loves and laughs, I’ll miss you to the moon and back.

      • Paul and Teresa Koronka

        He was a bright spot in our life. We were blessed to see him at Mass on Sunday. To the family we are so sorry for your lost.

        Paul and Teresa Koronka.

        • Share A Candle: yes
      • Jan, Geri, Matt and Mary I am very sorry to hear of your Dad’s passing. He was an incredible person. . Lots of memories as friends and neighbors.

        • My thoughts are with you Geri, and your whole family. I admired your dad so much, and was always in awe when I was at your house when we were kids, to see his strength as a father, his humor, and his skill as a craftsman. Rest in peace, Mr. Koscielniak.
          Laura (Blotske) Stieler

          • Craig and Berni Seidell

            We are so vey sorry for your loss. Leo was a wonderful and kind man and yes, he always had a smile on his face. I will miss seeing him at Mass. I’m sure he’s up there with the rest of the family dancing, singing and just being together. RIP Leo and may God bless you!

            Craig & Berni Seidell

            • Gerri Ann and family, your Mom nd Dad became such good friends to Gorge and me. They were special
              people. May they rest in peace. Love Grace Rowleyh

              • Condolences to the whole family. Loved Leo, he always had a smile on his face for everyone. He and Louise were such a special couple and now they are together again 💕 Our prayers and with you all during this difficult time.

                • What a man he was. Always had a smile and greeted me with a kiss on my cheek. If you ever had the pleasure of dancing a polka with him, it is an experience you will not forget. My feet barely touched the ground as we went whirling around the dance floor. I was hanging on for dear life. And then he was known as a bit of a thief. He was stealthy in creeping under table cloths to steal the brides shoe, to get the fifth of whiskey.at weddings. I knew of this habit and was on the look out for him at our wedding but never spotted him until my shoe was off my foot and I nearly pulled out of my chair. John worked for Leo for many years and he could probably tell some stories too. Our sincere condolences to the entire family. A good man in all ways
                  Loretta and John Swantek

                  • Dick and Candy Gardner

                    We absolutely enjoyed his friendship for 30 years. We will miss sitting with him at Sunday Mass. Happy that he and dear Louise are back together. Love you, Leo.

                    • I am so sorry to hear of this loss. I know he was a force for his family and he was greatly loved. My the good Lord comfort his loved ones in their loss. My heart goes out to go the family.

                      • My heart aches for you all. May the loving memories comfort you through these difficult times. You are all in our thoughts and prayers.

                        • Jerry and Pat Moran

                          We are very sorry for the loss of such a fine man. He always had a smile and a kind word for us. It was a real treat working on projects at St Marys with Leo. Our prayers and condolences to Jan, Geri, Matt, and Mary.

                          • Tim and Jodie Samkowiak

                            We are so very sorry for your loss. Leo was such a remarkable and kind person and brightened the day of everyone who crossed his path. Such a talented person too! When I first moved to Gaylord I often heard people say he was the most talented carpenter there ever was! Our thoughts and prayers are with all of you at this difficult time.

                            • Nothing but fond memories of this man and your family.
                              Special memories growing up.
                              One of the hardest working men I’ve ever met.
                              Hope I can make the memorial service this Spring.

                              • He was my partner doing dishes at soup suppers, chicken dinners, and donuts after Sunday mass. Lotsa laughs and just the kindest
                                most jovial friend. Will be missed by many.

                                • Ed and Judi Estelle

                                  Leo built our home 40 years ago and we are grateful every time we walk thru the door—what a great gentleman and craftsman he was—always enjoyed his visits to get strawberries! Rest well,Leo! The Estelles

                                  • Julie and Dan Kobylinski

                                    Geri and family, I have nothing but great memories of not just you and I, and our classmates, but your whole family. We all loved your parents they were the best,loving, kind, and welcoming people in the world. They will be missed. Please cry when you need to and laugh at special memories and most of all know they were loved

                                    • Our deepest sympathies to the Koscielniak Family, Leo was a very kind and caring man, always a quip to add to the conversation. I waited on Leo and Louise for years, always a good time..

                                      • Julie and Dan Kobylinski

                                        Geri and family I have nothing but great memories of not just you and I and our classmates but your whole family we all loved your parents they were the best loving kind and welcoming people in the world they will be missed please cry when you need to and laugh at special memories and most of all know they were loved

                                        • Tom & Debi Collison

                                          So sorry to hear of Leo’s passing. He was such a great man. Loved watching hockey games with him and Geri Ann. He always had a smile and hug at the ready. He will be very missed.

                                          • I will miss Leo. When I came back from Vietnam I met him and over the years I would see him at Glen’s where I worked til 2018. He always had this warm smile and always a positive attitude on life. May God bless you

                                            • Jackie (Peck) Westerhof

                                              I was at a Little League baseball game at St. Mary’s field and was sitting in the stands behind your mom and dad. A crazy foul ball was hit toward our section. It was coming down fast and hard and was bee-lining right for your mom. She put her head down and leaned forward, and your dad held open his big hands over your mom’s back and caught it, no sweat. I felt like I had seen Superman in action. My heartfelt condolences to Matt and the Koscielniak family.

                                              • Barb Kierczynski (Burzynski)

                                                Geri, Mary, and Mathew, my sympathy and prayers for you. Your father was a kind, wonderful, and very talented man. My mother sends her prayers to all of you.

                                                • Pat and Darlene Harkins

                                                  What a wonderful man! Whenever we saw him and Geri at some restaurant , he would always comment about my Dad (John Vinicki). Your dad had such kind words, or stories. He was a very interesting person. Just “good family”. We will miss him very much. Bless the family. You took good care of him. RIP Leo.

                                                  • Guy & Emmajean Baker

                                                    Leo and Louise, I’m so glad for having known you both. You are now looking down on tons of people who’ve admired such a wonderful couple. My fondest recollections of you have been, first off, when in 1981 you and your helper repaired, fell through and re-roofed our old farmhouse on M-32. Then at the many Church, and Elmira family gatherings since 1978, when we first arrived on the scene, also the many projects you did that I furnished materials for, and then over the most recent 23 years, seeing both of you at Cathedral Masses, until and after Louise’s passing. You always had that wonderful smile and a truly hearty handshake. We will miss you, but we know you’re in a ‘Good Place’! See you in a few years, my friend…

                                                    • To the Koscielniak family,
                                                      My Deepest Sympathy for the loss of your Dad. He was a very hard working man and builder (as my Dad). Matt & Mary and Geri and Janet he will be missed, but not forgotten. Always cherish the great times you had together and may that help bring peace. Hugs
                                                      Kathy (Prusakiewicz) Avenall

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