W∴ Dr. Jay Barry Kosner November 12, 1944 – November 30, 2017
Jay Barry Kosner, loving husband, father, father-in-law, son, brother, brother-in-law, and grandfather, passed away Thursday, leaving his wife of 50 years, Sandra Ruth Cohen; son, Harold Scott Kosner (Alexis); grand-daughter Kaitlyn; sister-in-laws Brenda Cohen Eisgrau and Madalyn Cohen Lindsey (Philip); countless friends and family in Chicago, Florida, and Israel.
He loved being comfortable in his choice of clothing and never took fashion cues from anyone. His signature look most days was a pair of baggy blue jeans designed by the fashion house of King Size Men, a sweatshirt (even in Florida’s heatwaves), and an oversized jean jacket lined in genuine imitation sheepskin, and sometimes another jacket worn over that. He could never be too warm even in the summertime.
He loved watching TV reruns of Walker, Texas Ranger and NCIS (all localities) and detested soap operas. To watch a soap opera in the home meant one watched it after midnight. He loved Pawn Stars and Family Feud. He could watch all of his favorite shows over and over, but the one movie he loved above all else, “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” starring John Wayne. He knew every bit of dialogue and could play the title song on his beloved bagpipes.
He met his wife Sandee at Chicago’s South Shore High School in 1959. It was a blind date arranged by a mutual friend. They began dating, but then he stood her up for a Halloween Party – later apologizing because he “just hated wearing costumes.” Sandee told everyone she got back at him by marrying him and his costume days thus began in earnest.
In 1966 Jay wore down Sandee’s resistance after 3 months of proposing marriage to her every single night. They married on September 16, 1967 in a beautiful ceremony. Five months later, Jay, an accountant was transferred to Ft. Worth, Texas. They spent a year there and brought back the most perfect souvenir they could have wished for ….. a son, Harold Scott Kosner born on December 10, 1968. The following month, Jay was transferred back to Chicago – the only personnel to have been transferred back right before the company was sold! The family settled in Dolton, Illinois close to lifelong friends.
Remember … Jay didn’t like dressing up in costume. Well, the First major costume was that of a Captain in a reactivated Civil War Regiment, Mulligan’s 23rd Irish Brigade. Imagine wearing red woolen long john’s topped by a heavy wool single breasted frock coat trimmed in blue for the infantry and special gold braiding on the shoulders to denote his rank of captain. He carried a 30 pound musket, 6 feet in length and made all of his own Minnie balls by melting scraps of metal in a small tin pot. You can’t imagine the fumes when he was making his Minnie balls. Throughout the 1970’s they traveled the United States reenacting famous battles. He was actually commissioned by Illinois Governor Richard Ogilvie in 1972 as part of the Illinois Militia and took part in many ceremonies in Springfield, Illinois honoring our 16th President Abraham Lincoln’s legacy.
He served as the Assistant Office Manager for the District 6 – Markham Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. He once came to the aid of a very “pregnant woman” who said she was having a baby just as she rushed into the ladies room. Jay immediately called paramedics and was there when they delivered a healthy – eight pound bundle of marijuana! By that time he had had enough of the Circuit Court and decided to finally indulge his love of learning by going back to college to finish his education. He went to night school three nights a week while still working full time.
At the age of 38 in 1982 he received his Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resources; and followed it with not one, but two Masters Degrees in both Human Resources and Education, and finally earned his EdD, Doctorate in Education in 1990 after writing the first Doctoral Thesis in Roosevelt University’s history without ever entering a library. The writers of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA Manual) had no procedure to document sources from the new fledgling Internet at that time. Jay wrote to the authors and taught them how to accurately document work from the Internet. His information was published in future editions of the book. Jay was now officially Dr. Jay B. Kosner EdD and he was so proud of his scholarly accomplishments. You see, during most of his early life, his parents, especially his mother, would tell him he was “fat, ugly, and stupid.” He was very lucky to have his maternal grandfather living with him and so he received the most love from him. When Jay went back to school and received accolade after accolade for straight A’s, he no longer thought of himself as “stupid.” And our world, as we knew it, agreed. His influence on many people was wide spread. Jay began by helping other students with their dissertations; editing and helping them revise their work one page at a time, year after year. Many of the students he helped went on to become academics of the highest caliber. One of them was named “High School Principal of the Year” for the entire United States. Jay went to the ceremony held at Harvard University. Sandee and Jay lived in Cambridge one summer while Jay attended classes at Harvard University – on scholarship!
Jay entered the Chicago Public Schools, first as a teacher and then advanced to Vice Principal. When he retired from the Chicago Board of Education in 2005 he was the Curriculum and Reading Specialist for the entire Chicago Board of Education. His second opportunity at wearing a costume was as the beloved “Barney” – probably because he was shaped a lot like Barney. He enjoyed singing with the school children and everyone – students and teachers had to have their picture taken with Barney. And still Sandee never let him forget he stood her up because “he didn’t like costumes.”
Then one day he saw a sign in a grocery store advertising a bagpiper for hire. He always liked bagpipe music and although he had played the saxophone and piano for years in school, he always wanted to learn how to play the bagpipes. W∴Edward Wood, the advertiser, was contacted and he took Jay to the first of many lessons. It was the Medinah Shriners Bagpipers and ultimately Jay asked to join them. At that time, in order to become a Shriner, you first had to be a Mason, then a member of the Scottish Rite and/or the York Rite and then you could advance to becoming a Shriner. Jay joined the Masons and quickly learned what it was to be a Mason and be part of a brotherhood. He became the Evergreen Park (IL) Lodge’s Chaplain and loved every meeting. He was now very committed to his new found organizations and felt like he had a much bigger family who loved him unconditionally and respected him.
His third costume was that of a bagpiper complete with custom made kilt, two very special jackets, and even special hats. One hat was like the Queen’s Guard in London, a very tall and furry hat. He carried it in an empty ten gallon container. Getting ready for an electric night parade in Chicago, the band was gearing up in a special room of the Marshall Field’s Department Store. It was the storage room for their famous Frango Mints. They were told by the store Manager to help themselves to the candy. Every hat was worn home that evening because the ten gallon containers were filled with candy. Each Shriner gained a lot of weight that winter. Even Jay had a time just fastening his kilt after that much candy.
As a Shriner in the Medinah Bagpipers he was a good musician, but not great. He sought out teachers in the Orak Shrine Bagpipers in Michigan City, Indiana and really learned the fine-tuned art of playing the bagpipes. In his first competition he came in First Place while his original Medinah teacher came in Third Place and his Orak teacher in Second Place. He always credited his wife Sandee for his success in playing so well because he always practiced his bagpipe chanter while she shopped. He drew crowds of people around him when he played and brought quite a few new players to the band.
In 2002 while on a Shriners Cruise in Alaska he contracted sepsis. He was hospitalized for five and a half months and had to learn how to walk again. The sepsis took quite a toll on his body and left him with many medical issues. His road to recovery was long and slow and at the age of 58 he was left with the body of an 80 year old. But he persevered and after retiring from the Chicago Board of Education happily moved to Summit Greens in Clermont, Florida in 2005.
He still had his love for the bagpipes and looked for a band to join. What he found was another player, an Orlando Police Officer, and together they helped found the Orlando Fire Department’s Pipes and Drums. He took great pride in the fact that after only one year together, the band was the opening act for Rod Stewart at the Amway Center in Orlando. It took a lot of effort to get aboard one of the fire trucks and several firemen would help him get on for a trip to wherever they were playing. He was thankful for gravity because that’s how he always got down from the fire trucks. When he no longer could march in parades, he took up the electric bagpipes and played at many funerals here in Florida. His biggest critic was his puppy, Chicago, who hated the sound of bagpipes and would try to grab the chanter from his mouth at every opportunity. She just couldn’t take the noise!
He and his wife became active in many of the clubs at Summit Greens. He joined the Performers Club and Readers Theater and played his bagpipes in a Variety Show; a scruffy old fashioned doctor in a Vaudeville Show; and countless funny skits with his wife at the Readers Theater sessions. He loved going to the CIAO Club meetings and even played Bocce for a while. He enjoyed going to the Latin American Club’s parties and was delighted when the star performer, Steve Roman serenaded Sandee and him on their 50th Anniversary at the Latin American Club’s Heritage Party on September 16th. Twice a month he helped out at the BINGO games by selling the BINGO cards, and organizing the distribution of the cash prizes. His health was failing and he had little energy, but he wanted to support Sandee’s efforts for Summit Greens and he showed up to help whenever she asked.
He had become a very active Mason with Groveland Lodge #190 and was soon working his way up the line to Worshipful Master of the Lodge in 2016. At the same time he was responsible for Masonic Education for the 18th District and worked as a member of the Board of Trustees for the Masonic Home of Florida in St. Petersburg. He enjoyed the brotherhood of the Masons and was taking private lessons in his final weeks to further his knowledge of masonry. He asked for his Masonic Books in the hospital and continued practicing his craft work. Jay was also on a Special Committee for the State of Florida commissioned by the Grand Master of the State of Florida and was instrumental in rewriting the Rules and Procedures for Masonic Education in the State of Florida. He was tireless in his love of Masonry.
In 2013 he became affiliated with Temple L’Chayim in Clermont, a reformed temple. He was at services religiously and was helpful in always schlepping the goods for the Oneg Shabbat his wife Sandee always prepared. Ultimately he was elected President of the Temple. He forged lifelong friendships with Rabbi Howard Schwartz and his wife Jeb; Cantor Isaac Kriger and his wife Elizabeth; Temple Founder Nathan Axel and his wife Judy, Paul Shepard and all of the temple’s congregants.
He loved his puppy Chicago and wrote numerous stories about her and her exploits with her ‘boyfriends’. He made up restaurants and amusements they would travel to and anyone who heard the stories would always laugh. For her 8th birthday, he insisted she told him she wanted a string of pearls. When she finally got the pearls she wore them and would look at herself in the mirror to his amusement. At their 50th Anniversary Party, Chicago was in full evening attire, black sequined dress, and her pearls. When the soprano sang “My Heart Belongs to Daddy” she walked over to Jay and licked his hand. The next day she said, according to Jay, “Don’t ever have another party like that Daddy. I’m so tired; I’m just not a party animal.” It was a party that took two years to plan. Jay enjoyed every minute of having his family and friends there to share what he considered his best achievements in life … that of being husband to Sandee and father to Scott (Alexis) and grandfather to Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn was the joy of his life and he loved to have Face-time with her and encourage her studies and always, always loved to talk to her and spoil her with the presents he sent to her in California.
There will be a Memorial Service in January at Summit Greens in Clermont, FL. In lieu of flowers, contributions to two of Jay’s favorite charities would be greatly appreciated.
The Shriners Children’s Hospitals has no billing department because no child is ever turned down regardless of their parents’ ability to pay for treatment. Annually, the Children’s Hospital in Oak Park, Illinois would hold a parade for the patients with up to 100 different participating bands and clubs marching in the driveway of the hospital. It was the longest shortest parade ever. It was always one of Jay’s favorite charities. Shriners Children’s Hospitals, 2900 Rocky Point Drive, Tampa, FL 33607 (855) 401-4897.
The Masonic Home of Florida on the shores of Coffee Pot Bayou in St. Petersburg. When he was chosen to serve on the Board of Trustees for the Masonic Home in St. Petersburg, Jay was overjoyed. He loved attending the monthly meetings; seeing the residents and interacting with them. It is here that a Mason and/or his spouse can retire and be taken care of with brotherly love. Jay’s researching abilities gave much needed insight to the workings and management of the home and brought him a greater understanding of assisted living conditions and how it is done beautifully and lovingly at The Masonic Home. The Masonic Home of Florida, 3201 1ST ST NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (866) 531-0695.
Jay was a special person. To know him and be his friend was an honor and a privilege. He was always there for his family and friends. He was always giving and giving, and then gave even more. If it was in his power to do so, he would do it. You just had to ask or let it be known and he was there – anytime, day or night.
It took but a minute to find this special person, an hour to really appreciate him, a day to fully love him, and it will take an entire lifetime to forget him. Jay will always be remembered in our hearts.