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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Kay M. Koster

Issue Date: May 14, 2014

Kay M. Koster, 95, of Rockford, Ill. passed away on Wednesday, May 7. Born Catherine Edana Marie Kostrzewski on June 5, 1918, in Peshtigo to Mr. and Mrs. Joseph (Hortense) Kostrzewski, she was a 1936 graduate of Peshtigo High School where she served as class president. She was the first Girl Scout leader in Peshtigo.

She worked at Badger Paper Mills for five years while studying piano and music theory with Anna Papon of the Leipzig Conservatory of Music from Germany. She taught guitar lessons at the Honolulu Conservatory of Music in Marinette, and later had a radio show for Aloha Island for three years on WMAM radio station in Marinette/Menominee. She eventually bought The Honolulu Conservatory of Music in 1941.

In 1945 she closed her businesses in Marinette and moved to Beloit, where she worked for Voight Music Centers in Beloit and Elgin and Rockford, Ill.

In 1956 she opened Koster Guitar Center in Rockford and during this time, she commuted to Chicago for four years and studied at Modern Guitar Studios, which later merged with De Paul University.

For over 60 years, she played professionally for dances and various occasions for ethnic clubs, and demonstrated Fender, Gibson, and National guitars at Home Shows. She was a judge for guitar competitions for over 20 years.

A member of Aloha International; Hawaiian Steel Guitar Association; Musicians Union from 1940-1980; American Guild of Music; Aloha Dream-Brecon Wales; Eagles Club and Visitation Chairman for Rockford Ostomy Club; she belonged to St. James Catholic Church in Rockford.

She played at the Aloha International Conventions in Winchester, IN, and the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Association in Joliet, IL, and had an authentic Hawaiian group called Aloha Islanders.

In August 2013, she received the coveted Jerry Byrd Lifetime Achievement Award during the 42nd International Steel Guitar Convention in St. Louis, MO.

She is survived by two nieces, Bonnie Pottinger of Palm Harbor, FL, and Jody (Bill) Bashford of Payson, AZ, both former Peshtigo residents; great-nephews, Tom Bashford of Gypsum, Co., and Rob Pottinger of Palm Harbor, Fla. and a great-niece, Lisa Kerns of Chandler, Az.

A Memorial Mass was held at 11 a.m. Monday, May 12 in St. James Catholic Church, Rockford. Burial was in Riverside Cemetery, Peshtigo. Memorial visitation was from 10 to 10:45 a.m. prior to the service in the church. Memorials can be given to Noah 's Ark Animal Sanctuary, 111 N. 1st St. Rockford, IL 61107.


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