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Catherine Koster

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Catherine Koster Obituary
CATHERINE KAY M. KOSTER, 95 ROCKFORD - Kay M. Koster, 95, of Rockford, passed away on Wednesday, May 7, 2014. Kay was born Catherine Edana Marie Kostrzewski on June 5, 1918, in Peshtigo, WI to Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Kostrzewski. She was a graduate of Peshtigo High School, where she served as her 1936 class President. Kay was the first Girl Scout leader in Peshtigo. She worked at Badger Paper Mill for five years while studying piano and music theory with Miss Anna Papon of the Leipzig Conservatory of Music from Germany. She taught guitar lessons at the Honolulu Conservatory of Music in Marinette, WI, 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, WI where she worked for Voight Music Centers in Beloit, Elgin, and Rockford. She wrote all the music arrangements for all three Voight centers and later became the manager of the Rockford branch of Voight Music for ten years. In 1956, Kay opened Koster Guitar Center on 7th Street in Rockford. The center employed 10 guitar teachers and taught 350 students per week. Her student's attended guitar competitions in Buffalo, NY, St. Louis, MO, Cincinnati, OH, and Chicago, IL to name a few. They would travel by chartered bus, train or parent car caravans. During this time, Kay commuted to Chicago for four years and studied at Modern Guitar Studios (later merged with De Paul University). Kay was known for her excellent guitar repair. For over sixty years, Kay played professionally for dances and various occasions for ethnic clubs including, Swedish, Italian, Polish, Lithuanian clubs, country clubs and parades. She demonstrated Fender, Gibson, and National guitars at Home Shows. She was a judge for guitar competitions for over 20 years for Harry Stanley's Oahu Publishing Company in Cleveland, OH and the State of Iowa guitar contests, Boddicker chain of 14 studios, in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines. She was a member of Aloha International since 1975; Hawaiian Steel Guitar Association since 1985; Musicians Union from 1940-1980; American Guild of Music since 1946; Aloha Dream-Brecon Wales since 2000; Eagles Club since 1946; Visitation Chairman for Rockford Ostomy Club for over 10 years; and a member of St. James Catholic Church in Rockford since 1950. Kay played at the Aloha International Conventions in Winchester, IN for 35 years, and the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Association in Joliet, IL for 25 years. She had an authentic Hawaiian group, complete with hula girls, called Aloha Islanders from 1940-2002. In 1962, Kay traveled to Hawaii and had the honor to play Hawaiian music with the local native Islanders band at the Hawaiian Village in Honolulu, Maui Palms on Maui, The Kona Inn and Courtyard King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel overlooking scenic Kamakahonu Bay on the big island of Hawaii. In August 2013, Kay received the coveted Jerry Byrd Lifetime Achievement Award during the 42nd International Steel Guitar Convention in St. Louis, MO. She is survived by her two nieces, Bonnie Pottinger of Palm Harbor, FL, and Jody (Bill) Bashford of Payson, AZ; great-nephews, Tom Bashford of Gypsum, CO, and Rob Pottinger of Palm Harbor, FL; great-niece, Lisa Kerns of Chandler, AZ . Memorial Mass will be at 11 a.m. Monday, May 12, 2014, in St. James Catholic Church, 428 N. Second St. Rockford. Burial in Riverside Cemetery in Peshtigo, WI. Memorial visitation will be from 10 to 10:45 a.m. prior to the service in the church. Memorials to Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary, 111 N. 1st St., Rockford, IL 61107. To share a memory or online condolence, visit olsonfh.com.
Published in Rockford Register Star from May 10 to May 11, 2014
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