Pearl M. Koza, 98, a resident at McCrite Plaza at Briarcliff in Kansas City, Missouri, passed away Tuesday, April 4, 2023. Although in declining health for the last year, she remained alert and positive until just two days before her death. Her final passing was quick, painless and peaceful at NorthCare Hospice House at North Kansas City Hospital.
Pearl was an outgoing, charming woman who made friends everywhere she went. She had a unique gift for making anyone immediately feel at ease in her company. While she always took great pride in her appearance, she had no fear of hard work among her lovely flower gardens or fishing at her beloved Chippewa Flowage. Whatever the activity, event, or occasion and with whomever was fortunate to be in her company at the time, she loved unconditionally. She had a way of making each person in her life feel special and loved and important in every moment.
Pearl was born in Chicago on August 16, 1924 to Frank and Frances (Pulchalski) Dohra. She grew up in Chicago with three brothers, Richard, Laurence, and Frank Jr. She remembered them as fiercely protective of her but always willing to tease her. Because of the Depression, their lives were not easy but she chose to remember “only the good stuff.” She graduated high school, worked for the war effort, and went dancing with her brother Laurie.
In 1945, she married Leonard C. Dombrowski after a whirlwind romance. Because he was serving in the US Navy, except for one month when he was on leave, their romance was carried on by letters. After the war, they settled in Chicago and had two children, Cheryl Anne and Leonard Steven. She was very close to both the Dohra and Dombrowski families and enjoyed many parties, vacations and holidays with them.
In 1967, Pearl and Len moved to Arlington Heights, Illinois. They made many lifelong friends in their Ivy Hill neighborhood and at St. Edna Catholic Church. At this time, Pearl enjoyed great success as a realtor, a career she loved. Her quick and sharp intellect, along with a sparkling personality, made her success look easy though she worked tirelessly to achieve these results.
In 1982, Pearl and Len retired and moved to Sun City, Arizona where they made many new friends. There also, they were active in various Polish Clubs and St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church. One of her great joys occurred when she was able to move her mother Frances from Chicago to spend her final years in Arizona being pampered by her loving daughter and son-in-law.
Pearl and Len spent many happy summers at their lakeside home in Couderay, Wisconsin. “Ms. Pearl” soon became The Queen of Tiger Musky Resort and also the LCO Sevenwinds Casino. Everyone knew they were in the presence of “royalty” when she entered the room with her dazzling smile and immaculate coiffure. When her Len died in 1988, his last words were “I love you, Pearl.”
In 1990, Pearl became reacquainted with The Honorable Edward M. Koza, a retired judge living in Chicago. It was another whirlwind romance for her with many beautiful letters from Ed sealing the deal. In 1991, he moved to Arizona and they were married. Pearl was embraced by the entire Koza family, especially Ed’s son Bob (Donna). After a very happy life together, Ed died in 2002. His last words to Pearl were “Give us a kiss.”
In 2018, Pearl made the decision to leave her many friends in Sun City and move to Kansas City to be closer to some of her family. Still fiercely independent, she chose to live at McCrite Plaza at Briarcliff. She participated in many activities there and acquired even more treasured friends. Every week they celebrated “Wacky Wednesday” with drinks, snacks and great conversation. She continued to spend her summers in Wisconsin. In her last months, she had wonderful full-time caregivers who spent hours in conversation with her, and whom she loved like family.
She is survived by her children, Cheryl Dombrowski (Charles Will) of Parkville, Missouri and Leonard S. Dombrowski (the late Mary Clark Dombrowski) of Arlington Heights, Illinois. She is also survived by her dear sister-in-law Clare Dombrowski of Lisle, Illinois. Her grandchildren are Jennifer Wilmot of Parkville, Missouri, Robert Szabados (Michelle) of Riverside, Missouri, and Angel Stivers (Dennis) of Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Her great-grandchildren were all blessed to be able to spend time with their GG and are Alexander and Leonardo Wilmot of Parkville, Missouri and Solarah Pearl and Vala Stivers of Fayetteville, North Carolina. She was a loving Auntie Pearl to Jan Montalbano (Greg), Michael Ewanic (Pat), and Cindy Myrtle (George), and a loving Aunt Dolly to Kim Dohra and Jill Vranic. She was also a “borrowed” Mom and Grandma to countless others who met and adored her through the years.
A Celebration of Life is scheduled for Tuesday, May 16th at McCrite Plaza. Her interment will take place at St. Adalbert Cemetery in Niles, Illinois, on Saturday, May 20th. In lieu of flowers, donations to NorthCare Hospice House would be appreciated.