George Kolodziej, 91

Mechanical engineer

Opinion: Obituaries

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George C. Kolodziej, 91, of Grinnell, Iowa, formerly of Oak Park, died on Dec. 17, 2016 at the Mayflower Community Health Care Center in Grinnell. 

Born on Feb. 22, 1925, in Chicago, the son of Joseph and Frances Ciesla Kolodziej, he was raised in Chicago and attended public school there. He was a veteran of the United States Navy and served during World War II.

The GI Bill gave him the opportunity to pursue a Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of Illinois Champaign/Urbana. He worked in research and development at a number of firms until he retired in 1989 from American National Can Company. He was very comfortable at his drawing board, where he planned and created many innovations during their 43 years in their Oak Park two-flat.

He was united in marriage with Velna Lewis on July 27, 1968, in Arlington Heights. The couple moved to Oak Park in 1971 and later moved to Grinnell in 2014.

Mechanically minded, he was a wonderful carpenter and a good craftsman. He was very precise in his thinking and work and his designs were elegant. Fascinated with the history of Chicago and architecturally designed buildings, he enjoyed traveling frequently to Europe and had a passion for downhill skiing.

Survivors include his wife, Velna; his four children, Gary (Cecilia Knight) Mertens, Paul (Cynthia Von Orthal) Von Mertens, Matthew Kolodziej, and David (Andi Anderson) Kolodziej; and his grandchildren, Rita, Jane and Ellis Mertens, Avalon Von Mertens and George, and Molly and Sophie Kolodziej. He was preceded in death by his parents, Joseph and Frances Kolodziej; and his five siblings, Charles Kolodziej, Florence Zukowski, Edwin Kolodziej, Matilda Kielbasa, and twin sister Lorraine Arnold.

His Celebration of Life is pending at the Mayflower Community in January. 

Memorial contributions may be directed to the ACLU, Alzheimer's Association or the Mayflower Community Human Needs Fund.

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