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Willard Kozlowski

Dec. 18, 1936-Sept. 10, 2009

Willard P. "Bill" Kozlowski, 72, of Bemidji, died Thursday, September 10, 2009 at the North Country Regional Hospital in Bemidji.

Willard Paul "Bill" Kozlowski was born to Walter and Valeria (Jagielo) Kozlowski on Dec. 18, 1936 in Pray, Wis. He attended Neillsville High School, where he met his future wife, Betsy. Bill left home in 1954 at age 17 to join the United States Air Force. He furthered his education while enlisted, attaining an associate's degree.

On Feb. 28, 1958, Bill married Betsy Norman. Bill and Betsy were blessed with five beautiful daughters: Sherry (Gary) Russell, Karen (Patrick) Mitchell, Jill (Bob) Hagge, Kristi (Jody) Hernandez and Lauren (Whitey Schuett) Kozlowski. Bill's service career spanned 21½ years. He attained the rank of Chief Master Sergeant --the ninth and highest enlisted rank in the Air Force. His primary focus involved the maintenance of Minuteman ICBM missiles.

After retiring from the Air Force, Bill and his family moved to Waubun. Bill picked up other occupations including driving school bus for the Waubun school district. He did take time out to hunt and fish. This forged lasting friendships and memories.

On May 31, 1992, at age 54, Bill met Jesus Christ in a personal, life changing way. He was overwhelmed by love and forgiveness. He returned God's love with a passion. Bill enlisted in the service of the Lord. His newfound strength, love and knowledge flowed to the rest of us. He also joined ranks with the Gideon to extend God's word to others.

Bill left behind his loving wife of 51 years, Betsy M. Kozlowski of Bemidji; daughters Sherry (Gary) Russell of Bemidji, Karen (Patrick) Mitchell of Callaway, Jill (Bob) Hagge of Bemidji, Kristi (Jody) Hernandez of Ludington, Mich., and Lauren (Whitey Schuett) Kozlowski of Perham; 14 grandchildren; one great grandson; one brother, Edwin Kozlowski of Black River Falls, Wis.; as well as aunts, an uncle, cousins, nieces and nephews.

Preceding Bill in death were his parents, Walter Kozlowski and Valeria Mazurek; brother, Donald Kozlowski; and sister, Barbara Severson.

Memorial services are scheduled for 2 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18 at the Evangelical Covenant Church in Bemidji, with the Rev. Norm Gullingsrud and Gary Russell officiating. Family will greet friends one hour prior to the service at the church.

Arrangements have been entrusted to the Olson-Schwartz Funeral Home in Bemidji. An online guestbook is available at