Virginia O. Kozak
|Name of Deceased||Virginia O. Kozak|
|Date of Death||01/04/2021|
|Date of Birth||08/13/1920|
|Funeral Home||Koch Funeral Home|
On the evening of January 4th, in her apartment at Elmcroft Senior Living, Virginia passed peacefully into her eternal home, moments after her daughter had left. Carmen Virginia Orton Kozak was born on Friday, August 13, 1920, in Herndon, WV, in her parents’ home. She was the second child and second daughter born to Rollie S. and Velma Tucker Orton, who had married in Kentucky. Ancestry has confirmed most of her heritage as Scottish- Irish and English. After moving from Herndon and Maben, her parents settled in the small coal town of Matoaka, WV, where her father remained a station master for the Virginian Railroad, often working seven days a week. Her mother was a very hard-working housewife, making all of the clothes for her daughters, as well as planting and canning most of the vegetables from the family’s large garden. From a young age, Virginia continued to take piano lessons on the new Baldwin baby grand piano her parents had been able to purchase, even during those Depression years. As a child, she was able to earn extra cents delivering telegrams her daddy received in his station, because few had telephones to receive important news. Her best historic memories as a child included getting home deliveries from the iceman for their “icebox,” and watching out one of the two circular windows in the back of the Chevrolet the family owned for only a brief time. Because Virginia learned so quickly from her older sister, she was moved a year ahead in school, and graduated from high school before turning 17. In high school, Virginia participated in many activities, including school government, theatre and athletics— playing girls’ basketball and cheerleading for the only boys’ team of basketball. Upon her high school graduation, Virginia attended Concord College (now University), in Athens, WV, where she majored in Music Education, with a minor in English. In college, Virginia participated in many extra curricular activities, including school government, Sigma Sigma Sigma Sorority, and several music groups in which there are pictures of her playing multiple instruments— including the trombone, violin and piano. Additionally, she was also president of Concord’s chapter of the national education honor fraternity of Kappa Delta Pi. The summer before her Junior year, Virginia was fortunate to spend an extended time studying with hundreds of other to-be music teachers from across the country, at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. In her Junior year, Virginia’s picture was one of nine finalists entered in a nation-wide contest published in the Look Magazine for the “most beautiful college co-ed in West Virginia.” Virginia won with over two-thirds of the votes, earning her the honor of becoming Queen Morgan the Fourth, to oversee the annual Tomato Festival, held in Berkley Springs, WV — attended by over 40,000 people. As part of the many opportunities this role afforded, there were various newspaper photo shoots with important government officials, including Secretary of Agriculture Grover Hill and State Representative Jennings Randolph. In the Spring of 1941, Virginia graduated from Concord with the second highest honors in her class, as Magna Cum Laude — second only to her long-time friend and college room-mate. After her graduation from Concord, Virginia was hired by WV Mercer County Schools to teach in Montcalm, as a music teacher for Seventh to Tenth Graders, where she taught for 2 ½ years while still living with her parents. In 1943, Virginia was accepted into the music program of Columbia University Teacher’s College in New York City, moving from the small towns of West Virginia for the first time. During her matriculation at Columbia, while in a conducting class, editors for the Parade Magazine were searching for a graduate student who would be the most photogenic for a featured article. Virginia was subsequently chosen to be the subject of this published four-page pictorial article. While in New York City, Virginia corresponded with several of her former Concord professors, including her former math and music professor — Andrew Kozak — who happened to now be stationed in the U.S. Navy, near New York City. This correspondence eventually led to a meeting… which eventually led to a first date, in the city’s large Riverside Baptist Church. By December of 1944, they announced their engagement, and were subsequently married on April 7, 1945, in Matoaka, WV. For their honeymoon, they left on a local train —- waiving to well-wishers from the back of the caboose —- and traveled to New York City where they stayed at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. It was while they were on their honeymoon that President Franklin Roosevelt died in office. Since Andrew remained in the Navy for several years, their first homes were near his areas of assignment, living first in Wickford, RI and then in Berkley, CA. Virginia continued to teach in the public schools of Valley Stream, Long Island, and Oakland, CA, where she taught Music and English. For the war effort, Virginia also worked in the Quarter Master Core, where at first, she barely recognized her new name of “Carmen Kozak” — being required to use her given first name. In 1946, after returning from the West Coast, Andrew and Virginia re-located in Athens, WV. Initially, Virginia again taught choral and instrumental music in the Spanishburg and Matoaka schools, including First through Twelfth grades. During their summers, they came to State College, PA, where Andrew was continuing to work on his Doctorate (completed in 1952). In the early 1950’s their children, Margaret and Richard, were born, after which they built and purchased their first home, on Faculty Hill. In 1958, Dr. Kozak accepted a position with Penn State University as an Assistant Professor in the College of Education, and subsequently moved his family to State College, PA, where the family remained in the same large duplex on Corl Street for over 55 years. Through these six decades, Virginia remained involved in various activities. In the early 1960’s, she was employed as a substitute music teacher in the State College Junior High. In the late sixties, she began working at the Kalin’s Dress Shop. Her volunteer activities included the following. She has remained a member of St. Paul’s Methodist Church (since 1959), participating in The Friendship Class, Circle 6 and being the director of Junior High Education while her children were attending. Starting in the late 1960’s, Virginia began to volunteer for the Red Cross to play the piano for the monthly birthday party at “the old folks home” of University Park Manor (now Hearthside) which she continued doing even into her 80’s. She was a member of the State College Women’s Club, where she served as pianist, acted in numerous plays, and volunteered in the Thrift Shop. For almost 20 years, she volunteered as a cashier in the gift shop of Centre Community Hospital (now Mt. Nittany Medical Center). She has also remained a member of the social sorority of Sigma Sigma Sigma. When in her own home, Virginia played her baby grand piano most days. She has said that her favorite pieces were the Eb Nocture and Minute Waltz by Chopin, pieces by Mozart and favorite old standards. Over the decades, she was especially skilled at playing Scrabble, and enjoyed reading biographies or books by her favorite authors, Billy Graham and Mauve Benchy. And she always helped to keep her family focused on their religious roots and responsibilities. In June of 2014, Virginia was moved into Elmcroft Senior Living of State College, where she has continued to reside. There, she continued to evidence her genteel southern manners (especially of providing routine introductions), her wonderful sense of humor, and her love of playing hymns and old standards on the piano — which she could do with or without music. In August of 2020 — despite the distance requirements of the Covid pandemic — Elmcroft put together a wonderful 100th Birthday Outdoor Celebration for Virginia, including over 500 balloons, multiple posters with old magazine and college pictures of Virginia, a collection of musical instruments she had played, and a large car parade. She also received over 100 birthday cards, all of which helped her to feel very well celebrated. In the eyes of the many who love her, she will always be a most beautiful and Christian Southern belle. At this time, the family would like to express their appreciation of all the tender, loving care our Mother received by numerous staff at Elmcroft — especially by Regina, Carol, Trina, Brad, and Gretchen. Virginia was predeceased by her parents, her husband (1986), her nephew Mark Feuchtenberger, her sister Elizabeth O. Feuchtenberger, and her “beau” of 20 years, Charles A. Ross. She is survived by her two children, Margaret C. Kozak (Sherry Slaterbeck) of State College, PA, and Richard A. (Denise) Kozak of Hacienda Heights, CA… two grandsons, Brian R. (Sophia Seto) Kozak of Irvine, CA, and Christopher R. Kozak and Melissa Horgan of Huntington Beach, CA….and two great grand-daughters, Chloe Lia Kozak of La Puente, CA, and Kira Jade Kozak of Irvine, CA. …and her sister’s children, Douglas, John, Betse and Rollie Feuchtenberger. Visitation will be from 1 until 2 p.m., on Saturday, January 9, 2021 at Koch Funeral Home, 2401 S. Atherton Street, State College. Funeral service will follow at 2 p.m., at the funeral home, with the Pastor Dave Hersh officiating. Due to state regulations, there will be a limited number of people permitted in the funeral home at one time. Masks will be required and social distancing will be observed. Burial will follow at Centre County Memorial Park, family and friends are welcome to attend. In lieu of flowers, donations for an instrumental scholarship may be mailed to, Academy of the Performing Arts, C/O Director Carol Pharo, 3670 W. College Ave., State College, PA 16801. Arrangements are under the care of Koch Funeral Home, State College. Online condolences and signing of the guest book may be entered at www.kochfuneralhome.com.