By DON GLYNN
Niagara Gazette — YOUNGSTOWN — Word spread quickly in this village that Ronald M. Kozar, 76, a popular Lewiston-Porter school teacher for 40 years and dedicated volunteer in the community, had died Sunday after a short illness.
The initial announcement by the Rev. Rex T. Stewart, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, stunned many attending the Sunday service. It was where Kozar had been active as an elder, a member of the choir and the Fix-It-Club, the volunteer group that performs countless chores in and around the church.
Kozar also was known for his behind-the-scenes work in the community such as driving the Youngstown senior citizen van, delivering meals-on-wheels for the Office of the Aging and serving as a tour guide at Old Fort Niagara. "He was very dependable and personable," said Brian McDonald, director of volunteers at the historic fort. "He was always cheerful and upbeat, quick to offer a word of encouragement to anyone in need of it. As a retired teacher, he enjoyed the opportunity to lead the tours, especially the student groups. We're really going to miss him."
Former Lewiston-Porter School Superintendent Walter Polka noted that Kozar was widely respected by the students, teachers and the administrative staff. "He was more than willing to help new teachers become familiar with the system. He also had a liking approach. People felt comfortable in his presence, whether in the teachers lounge or at a meeting. Just by his nature, people were easily drawn to him. He had a caring attitude," Polka said.
It was his unique way of teaching that sparked an outpouring of comments on the funeral home web site only hours after area residents learned of his passing.
A common theme in the posted comments: Kozar was an excellent teacher who made a difference in young people's lives.
"He was my favorite math teacher in high school; he made learning math fun! He was an incredible human being" — Stacy Lauzonis
"Mr. Kozar was one of the best teachers there was. He was funny and kind, and made you want to learn. I remember his Algebra Adage worksheets that were always so much fun. A truly wonderful man who touched many, many lives." —Charlotte Beatty Destino
"No only was he a wonderful teacher, but he was a wonderful human being. Ron, say 'Hi' to my Dad for me. If there is bowling in Heaven, you two can be on the same team again." — Linda Newman.MORE INSIDE • See Ronald Kozar's obituary on page 4