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JACK WALTER KURZEJESKI was born on a crisp morning the 4th of November, 1989, the kind of morning when each breath hangs as a momentary cloud in the air. It was the perfect time of year for his parents Eric and Lori to welcome him into the world. Jack died July 24, 2015, a rather hot summer day, certainly not the weather in which he would have chosen to leave this life but that choice is seldom ours to make.
Jack found joy in family, friends and in nature. Jack loved the outdoors and spent all his free time wandering among the forests, fields and streams. He picked his father a gallon of blackberries just a few weeks ago as a birthday gift, he brought a mess of frog legs to the family 4th of July dinner, by far the most savored dish by all, he was eagerly awaiting fall so he could hunt doves, deer and most of all waterfowl. His annual harvest of 30-40 pounds of morel mushrooms was legend among his friends but his favorite mushroom spots will forever remain secret.
To his niece Isabella he was simply “Apple Jack”. To a five year-old somebody 6’4” is a giant but it was his love and kindness that were the biggest of all. His uncle Adam always said “Jack has a big heart”, maybe that came along with being a big guy but either way all those who were close to Jack knew he could always be counted on to help, to care, to love. He showed all of us, time and time again, how to love better.
Jack shared his smile and his tenderness with his 10 month old niece Brooke and nephew Tucker. They will get to know him through the stories that are now part of our hearts. Jacks sisters Meghan Hayes and Eva Kurzejeski have a flood of good memories most of which are tied to simple things, like going wading in “frog pond” or building numerous forts out of whatever materials they could scrounge in the woods. Jack was lucky to have had the opportunity to become close to both sets of his grandparents. Whether it was eating home-made ice cream and ribs at Jack and Linda Truitt’s in Macon or catching catfish at Joe and Elda Kurzejeski’s pond in Columbia he loved being around his family and they being around him.
Jack was a welder by profession, for the past 4 months he worked replacing flood gates on the Harlan County Reservoir dam in Alma, Nebraska. During his time at Rock Bridge High School he was often to be found in the metal shop. The skills he learned there served him well. But only a few weeks ago, thinking about the future, he had told his sister Meghan that the best job he ever had was working a seasonal position with the Missouri Department of Conservation at Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area near Columbia. It had provided Jack the chance to combine his talents with a heightened sense of purpose, while working with a group of professionals that welcomed, befriended and respected him. In reflection of the love Jack shared for the outdoors and his interest in conservation in Missouri the family has established a Memorial Fund which will be used to support a conservation project in central Missouri. In lieu of flowers contributions can be sent to: Jack Kurzejeski Memorial Fund c/o Conservation Employees Credit Union, 2901 W. Truman Blvd, Jefferson City, MO 65109.
A service celebrating Jack’s life will be held Saturday August 8th at the Heartland Cremation and Burial Society. Visitation is at 1:00 pm with a simple service, sharing of fond memories of Jack, commencing at 2:00pm.
Vic Bogosian says
Farewell Jack, on to a better place. It was a privilege to work with you, and I am glad to hear you thought of your time with us so fondly.
Jesse and Heike Walden says
Dear Jack, Thanks for giving me a big hug last month when I saw you. I will always remember that. May you rest in peace now. You will forever be in our hearts.
Kathryn Oberg Roberts says
When I lived in the cabin, sometimes I would hear a knock on the screen door. Jack (and often Eva) would be standing there. Jack would have a mischevious grin and Eva was trying to hold back hers. I learned to cautiously approach the door, as I did not know what critter was going to appear from behind the back of Jack or Eva (or both). They loved to watch me squirm as they showed me ring neck snakes and frogs. Thanks for helping me appreciate all God’s critters. Lots of love and hugs to you and your family.
Russ Titus says
We are saddened to hear of Jack’s passing. I wish I could have had the privilege of knowing him better, but that was not to be. However, Eric and I did know each other and share in the joys of raising children at our ripe old age. This helps me know Jack a little, especially his love for the outdoors. Our prayers and thoughts are with you.
Randy and LeAn Smith says
Eric and Lori, I remember that day Jack was born, as well as fond memories of Randy and Jack going hunting. Doesn’t seem all that long ago, but time gets away from us. You are in our thoughts.
Paula Williams says
Lori, I didn’t know your Jack, but my heart goes out to you and Eric. Lifting you up on thoughts and prayers.
Ted Horst says
I missed you Eric at our HyVee old timers breakfast a few days ago and when i mentioned your name, Jimmy Loveless told me about your son.
i ain’t got the words or the arrogance to think that I could say something that might lessen your pain. But you are my friend who has lost a son and hunting companion. I hurt because you do.
Norb Giessman says
Eric – I echo Ted Horst’s eloquent comment. Your conservation family grieves with you.
Preston Stogsdill says
Eric, it saddens me to lose a waterfowl hunting companion any time but even more so when it is one so young. It never seems like we ever got to hunt as much together as we would have liked but it never stopped us from trying. He will be missed and in my thoughts in the marsh during this fall migration. I’m very sorry for your loss.
Ron Glover says
Eric and Lori,
I am deeply saddened by the death of your son Jack. My wish is for you both to be flooded with wonderful memories of time together on earth. My thoughts are always with you thoughout this difficult loss of a child.
Jim Loveless says
Uncle Scott Swafford gave me the sad news on the softball field. It was as if someone had reached inside me and wrenched my heart to hear it.
Words can’t express my sorrow for you and your family. Jack’s was an unfinished life.
Kim & Mark McCulloch says
Eric, Lori & family, our heartfelt condolences go out to you. Jack and our daughter, Layla, were very close friends since about the age of 14, and he was definitely one of my favorites! Even when the kids would gather at our house he would peel away and have long conversations with me simply talking about life in general, and of course hunting, fishing and guns with Mark. We both have such fond memories of Jack and he will forever remain in a special place in our hearts.
Jeff Demand says
Eric & Family,
So very sad for your loss. In the brief time that I spent with Jack, I loved his smile and his laid back personality. Our thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family.
Margaret Kurzejeski says
I am so very sorry for the loss of such a wonderful guy. I have gotten to know him a little from facebook. He was certainly an active person and loving as well. My thoughts and prayers are with you all on this very sad day.
Alex Geiger says
Jack was a good man and an even better friend. I am proud that I was able to call him my friend while he was here.
Grant and Sherry Staes says
Our deepest condolences to the family and friends you left behind. We’re sorry you had to leave so soon. Thank you for what you were able to teach us and our kids while you were here. You will be remembered well.
Dennis and Sandy Browning says
Eric, we didn’t have the privilege of knowing Jack, but we want you and Lori to know you are in our thoughts and prayers. A Trenton Firefighter and young friend of my son died in a skydiving accident this past week. There was nothing we could say to his parents but cry with them. My heart aches with your loss.
Don Gerling says
It was great working with Jack at eagle bluffs- he talked of his many adventures- like hunting bear in Alaska- R.I.P.Jack
Marty Jayne says
Thinking of you during this difficult time. We’ll miss Jack’s visits to the turkey feed.