Christine B. Kowacki
ORANGE — Christine Beth (Jepsen) Kowacki passed away at home on Oxbow Road in Orange, Monday, July 24, 2017, due to complications of a 10-year battle with cancer. She was first diagnosed with breast cancer Stage 4, in 2006, then survived over 10 years, continually being told to expect only six months. She had the most drive to live that a person could have; she was five gallons of life in a three-gallon bucket, all about living her own life, not about the disease. In her battle with cancer, she had many warriors on her side: sister Carolyn, son Mike, friend Tony in Brooklyn, Fr. Benedict Groeschel of the Bronx, Dr. Deborah Katz, the nurses and aides in oncology and Hospice, the Diemand family, Michael the Archangel, the monks of three monasteries and several other groups praying for her and wonderful caregivers and friends to guide and carry her. She was smiling, and thankful, to the end.
Christine was born in Davenport, Iowa, April 8, 1952, to Hans and Louise (Spoo) Jepsen. As a youth she loved water skiing, her dog, and joking with her sisters. She spent summers aiding the children of migrant workers. She graduated Davenport Central High School in 1970, had a first marriage, two sons, and ran her own day care until 1982, when she started college. In February 1985, she married Dr. Paul Kowacki, and moved to Massachusetts, helping him start his new practice. She returned to college, became a radiologic technologist, then a special education teacher. Ultimately, she earned six college degrees, all with honors, and taught high school Special Education students at Mahar Regional, then Greenfield High School. Years ago, she refreshed her Christian belief, joining the Catholic Church, a member of St. Mary’s in Orange. Chris remained a faithful child of God to her passing.
Her love of her family and of laughing and having fun with people was most important to her. She loved all children and dogs, knowing many, and while living in Orange shared a life with her husband that included socially disabled golden retrievers which they rehabilitated in the dog parks of Brooklyn and Queens, N.Y. She loved New York City: Prospect Park, Strand Books, High Line Park, the Wonder Wheel and the Side Show at Coney Island. She loved the sun and ocean anywhere. At home, she enjoyed her back porch and gardens, watching baby foxes, sitting with friends and telling jokes, and watching for her husband Paul to come home from the office. Quilting was a passion; she made many lovely quilts for family and friends. Though always true to her Iowa roots, she fully embraced being a New Englander, all except for seafood, greatly preferring a hamburger and a Coke while rooting for the Red Sox or Patriots.
Weaker and on Hospice, she was gracious, smiling, and ever hopeful to have a fun moment or to see her grandchildren. She had a team of over 20 wonderful caregivers, most of whom were volunteers. Her family and friends visited, including former students. She kept her quick, cryptic wit up until the very end. She spent three days out of reach, and at the end opened her eyes, sharp, clear and focused, then passed away in the arms of her husband and her closest caregiver, Janet. A private wake was held at home for two days for the caregivers and those most close to her. She was at home the whole time of her Hospice, passing and wake, in her own bed. Her casket was built by a friend at a local monastery, of locally grown wood. She has been cremated and will be buried at home; she chose a spot next to where her dogs are.
Chris leaves Paul, her husband of 32 years; sons, Michael Holst and wife Alicia of LeClaire, Iowa; and Robert Holst and wife Lisa; and grandchildren, Hailey, Trent and Hannah of Millers Falls. She leaves her sister Carolyn and husband Francis McMann, brother Larry Jepsen, nieces and nephews, her in-laws, and friends too numerous to count. She was predeceased by sister Connie, an infant brother and her parents.
A Funeral Mass will be held at St. Mary’s Church on Congress St., in Orange, at 9 a.m., on Saturday, Aug. 19. Directly following, starting at 10 a.m., will be a Celebration of Chris’s life in the St. Mary’s Parish Center where we will toast her life, cry and laugh with her.
Chris loved flowers, but would rather you send a donation, in her name, to either: Bethlehem House, c/o Fr. Pawlus at St. Mary’s, 19 Congress St., Orange MA 01364 (assists pregnant women who are in a difficult situation), or Care of Animals Fund, Town of Athol, 280 Exchange St., Athol MA 01331 (assists North Quabbin animal shelter).
ORANGE — Christine B. (Jepsen) Kowacki, 65, of Oxbow Road, died Monday, July 24, 2017, at home surrounded by her loving husband, Dr. Paul Kowacki, and her caregivers.
Funeral arrangements will be announced at a later time.