'He loved Schaumburg': Trustee Frank Kozak remembered for dedication, sense of humor

Frank Kozak's list of accomplishments include serving as a Schaumburg trustee, years as a dedicated volunteer for charities and athletics, and - surviving an EF5 tornado.

Kozak's family and community remembered a dedicated public servant with a sense of humor after his death Friday at age 78.

As a trustee, Kozak was chairman of the public safety committee as well as other committees. He served on the Schaumburg plan commission from 1983 until 2009, when he was elected to the village board.

Flags were lowered at village hall, said Mayor Tom Dailly, who recruited Kozak to take his spot as trustee in 2009. "He was the perfect candidate," Dailly said.

The zoning board and plan commission are two tough spots, and Kozak was not only well-qualified, but "he knew the village, he knew the residents and he knew the businesses," Dailly said.

In addition to institutional knowledge about everything from zoning rules to Septemberfest, where he volunteered, Kozak "knew when to lighten up," Dailly recalled.

"I'd say, 'Frank, stop being such an old curmudgeon,'" the mayor said, "and he'd give me a big smile. I'm going to miss those."

Son Steve Kozak remembers a dad "who never missed an event of mine. He made every event, whether it was a practice or a game."

As he plans his father's funeral, Steve Kozak said he's thinking about "how much he did for everybody. Not just the village but everybody - neighbors, friends and family."

"He just enjoyed giving back to the community. He loved Schaumburg. It was home for him and he did whatever he could do to make a better place."

Kozak died after battling several diseases for the last few months, Steve Kozak said.

But he and his beloved wife, Char, actually had a close call on May 20, 2013, in the Oklahoma City area when an EF5 tornado hit, destroying more than 1,100 homes.

The couple were visiting Char's brother and took refuge in a closet. A hot water tank fell on the Kozaks but kept them alive as winds ripped off the roof and walls crumbled.

Both suffered injuries, but three years later in 2016, Frank Kozak told the Daily Herald, "There are no words that I can say to try to explain what really happens during those minutes that you hang onto your wife when an EF5 tornado is bearing down on you and you have no place to go.

"To this day, my wife Char and I are thankful for the first responders who were on the scene within five minutes to help rescue us, to those who treated us immediately, for everyone's kind letters and phone calls."

Kozak, an electrician, helped lead local and state Jaycees organizations, assisted with the Schaumburg Athletic Association and Schaumburg High School's VIP program, and volunteered for Misericordia.

His term would have expired in May 2025, officials said.

A wake is scheduled from 2 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at Ahlgrim & Sons Funeral and Cremation Services, 330 W. Golf Road in Schaumburg, and a funeral is set for 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at Church of the Holy Spirit, 1451 Bode Road in Schaumburg.

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Schaumburg Village Trustee Frank Kozak and his wife Char describe what it was like to survive a tornado near Oklahoma City in 2013. Daily Herald File Photo
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