Thomas   Kozeliski

Obituary of Thomas Francis Kozeliski


Thomas Francis Kozeliski, Jr., 85, passed away peacefully in his Sun City, South Carolina home on March 6, 2024. His final days were spent surrounded by his wife, his daughters, their husbands, and his grandchildren.

Tom was born on May 7, 1938 in Centerville, Iowa to Thomas Francis Kozeliski, Sr. and Mary Margaret Vicevich. In 1955, he joined the Iowa National Guard as a navigator and later served as President of the ROTC Officer’s Club. After graduating from Davenport High School in 1956, he went on to attend Iowa State College (now University) in Ames, Iowa. At Iowa State, he served as President of Kappa Sigma Fraternity and he met his wife of almost 62 years, Elaine Grace Borg Kozeliski at a Kappa Sig dance. He graduated from the University of Omaha in Military Science. Tom and Elaine were married on May 12, 1962 and had 3 children: Kim Ann, Craig Michael, and Kristen Lynn.

Thomas completed 25 years of Air Force Military service, accumulating 6,300 flying hours as a Master Navigator, Certified Flight Instructor, Intel and Targets Officer. Flying into over 700 airports during his career, Tom supported the Congo Airlift (6 months), Cuban Missile Crisis, India-China Border War and Vietnam War (3 years). In 1967 he received an offer from Caterpillar Tractor Company which brought his family to Peoria, Illinois. He worked for Caterpillar for over 30 years while continuing his military service at the Air National Guard in Peoria and eventually obtaining the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Tom accepted several overseas assignments with Caterpillar that took his family to Geneva, Switzerland, and South East Asia (Hong Kong, Singapore and Jakarta). In 1994 he served as the on-site Caterpillar consultant, supervising the largest Civil Engineering Project in the World at the time: the construction of the Hong Kong Airport on Chek Lap Kok.

In his spare time and retired years, he enjoyed traveling, cooking and making bread, fishing, hunting, farming his 80 acres in Yates City, Illinois and frequenting the Okatie Ale House near his Sun City, SC home.

Tom was predeceased by his sister, Patricia Ann Kozeliski; his parents, Mary Margaret and Thomas F. Kozeliski, Sr.; and his son, Craig Michael Kozeliski. He is survived by his daughters Kim (Thomas) Wickert and Kristen (Jeffrey) Katula, as well as his grandchildren: Hannah (Andrew) Cave, Samuel Wickert; Grace and Joseph Kozeliski; and Khloe Laine, Caden Thomas, and Kyle Louis Katula.

A Funeral Mass to remember both Thomas and Elaine will be held at St. Mary Catholic Church, 828 S. 18th St., Centerville, Iowa on June 17, 2024 at 9:00 am. Interment of ashes immediately following at Oakland Cemetery, Centerville. In lieu of flowers, the family appreciates memorial donations to St. Jude Children’s Hospital. A memorial fund has been created to facilitate the process by using the following link:




Funeral Service

9:00 am
Monday, June 17, 2024
St. Mary's Catholic Church
828 S. 18th St
Cetnerville, Iowa, United States
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