Aug. 30, 1951 - Aug. 30, 2013
ELKHART - Arlene Janet Kolakovich, 62, longtime resident of Elkhart, passed away on Friday, Aug. 30, 2013 (her birthday). at Hygeia Hospital in Athens, Greece, of a heart attack she suffered while on vacation.
Arlene was born on Aug. 30, 1951, in Gary, to the late John and Jane Victoria (Lazar) Zambory. She married Thomas M. Kolakovich on Sept. 4, 1971, at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at University of Notre Dame. Their marriage flourished for nearly 42 years.
Her husband, Tom, survives her along with their three children, Kathleen "Kathy" Kolakovich Eggleson, Ph.D., of Granger, Christopher "Chris" T. (Sara) Kolakovich of Elkhart and Amy Lynn (Jeff) Kloska of Granger. She is also survived by her eight grandchildren ranging in age from 12 years to twins of 6 months, Sophia "Sophie," Oscar, Evan, Abraham "Abe," Callum "Cal," Vivian, Camille and Chloe. Her sister, Mary Gutmann of Fort Wayne, and brother John "Johnny" (Cyndi) Zambory of Texas, survive as well.
Arlene's life was one of service to others, a manifestation of her commitment to faith and family. She met Tom when they were students at Andrean High School in Merrillville. She continued her education for two years in elementary education at Purdue University. After Arlene and Tom wed, she turned her focus to welcoming and raising children and was a steadfast support to Tom through his medical education and service to the U.S. Navy.
After her husband was firmly established at Family Practice Associates, and her 17 years as a stay-at-home mother had seen her youngest child enter into late elementary school, she set out to finish her bachelor's degree in elementary education with great determination. She concurrently excelled as wife, mother and student, maintained dean's list GPAs and completed her B.A. in elementary education from Indiana University South Bend in 1990. She served the children enrolled in Elkhart Community Schools for nearly 17 years, teaching multiple grades at Roosevelt, Beardsley and Osolo elementary schools.
She was a certified reading recovery specialist and had a strong concern for childhood literacy and appreciation for children's literature. At the time of her death, she intended to co-author a children's book with her sister, Mary.
Arlene was an active member of St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, where she was involved as a lector and member of the Altar and Rosary Society. In her retirement, she served Saint Thomas School, where her son Chris is the principal, as a substitute teacher.
Arlene had many interests, including flower gardening, collecting antiques and crafting with various media. She was highly involved with and devoted to her grandchildren, who brought her much joy. She lived with passion and positivity, in faith, for others.
She will be greatly missed by family, friends and countless others whose lives she touched.
Please join her family from 3 to 8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 9, 2013, at Billings Funeral Home, 812 Baldwin St., Elkhart, for a time of sharing and remembering. A parish Rosary will be prayed beginning at 7:30 p.m. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m., with calling for one hour prior, on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013, at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, 1405 N. Main St., Elkhart. The Rev. Jason Freiburger will officiate.
In accordance with her wishes, cremation will follow.
In lieu of flowers, Arlene's family kindly requests memorials be made to Hannah's House, 518 W. Fourth St. Mishawaka, IN 46544; or St. Vincent de Paul Society, 520 Crescent Ave., South Bend, IN 46617.
To share a memory or condolence to Arlene's family, please visit www.billingsfuneralhome.com.