Paul Gerard Kokx
August 19, 1958 – June 18, 2018
Paul Gerard Kokx, business executive, died suddenly, at 59 years of age, June 18th.
Survived by his wife Annmarie Gilliatt Kokx, his daughter Anastasia (Douglas) Szymul, his son Jason Kokx, brothers and sisters, Dayle (Gale) Kokx, Karel (John Verhagen) Rogers, Nick (Pat) Kokx, Daniel Kokx Sr., Mary Jo (Kent) Kattelman, Jean Kokx, and Tara (Bill) Fox, grandsons Damen James and Hendrix Paul Szymul. Paul was the much loved son of Wanda and Delbert Kokx, both deceased.
Mr. Kokx was the technical and development advisor for CITIC Dicastal, Qinhuangdoa, China, Hebei Province. He participated and contributed in all elements of forged wheel sales, development and production for worldwide customers for fifteen years, learning the culture, the language and making friends along the way. His wife would join him on occasion and he took great joy in this and in all of their travels and adventures, which were many. He was owner and operator of his company of seventeen years, ReStock Wheels, a wheel remanufacturing shop in Southfield, MI. Mr. Kokx was a Vice President of Reynolds International 1988-1999 in which he derived much of his expertise in the international aluminum wheel industry. He worked as a CAD consultant for GE years 1983-1985 and as a Senior Project Engineer with The Budd Company from 1980-1985 in the Greater Detroit area working as a Body Stamping Engineering Liaison.
An engineer, builder, artist, entrepreneur, machinist, troubleshooter, mentor, the list is endless. Both a maverick and a MacGyver. Above all, Paul was a thinker. He embraced critical thinking and understood the importance of different ideas and perspectives.
Paul was in the process of completing his handcrafted home, he affectionally named "Paulyanna", at the time of his sudden death.
A friend to many, Paul will be remembered with fondness and love.
"Please don't trivialize time with publicly expressing personal experience through inane videos etc. Compress YOUR life/thoughts to wisdom. write it.
LIFE IS SHORT"
Paul Kokx March|2018
- Visitation Monday, June 25, 2018
- Funeral Mass Tuesday, June 26, 2018
Paul Gerard Kokx
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July 1, 2018
When I got the call from my wife about Paul’s passing, I was in total disbelief.
About 10 days later, I still am. Part of why it’s not sinking in is probably due to distance as we live in California. But I think also because I always saw Paul as a super hero who could not be touched.
Being at his memorial helped me come to grips a little, but I still am having trouble believing he is gone.
He really was a hero/idol for me. Even though I usually felt like an incapable idiot around him, I loved being with Paul. He was so patient, so easy going, so supportive, and such a great teacher.
Paul taught me a great deal about boats, and life.
I was in constant awe of the projects he would take on. I remember the afternoon when he and AnnMarie first saw the cottage in Waterford. They stopped by afterwards and he drew on a napkin all these grand plans. He was so excited. When I saw the cottage in person, I of course thought he was nuts. But I should have known better, because the masterpiece I saw while visiting this past week was very similar to what he drew on that napkin 10 years earlier. So amazing.
There were many times over the past 6 months where I thought about giving Paul a call to just to chat. But for whatever reason, I never did. Oh how I wish I had.
It was a treat to be around Paul’s family around the service, as I had know idea about his roots. What an amazing group of people.
Paul, I will forever remember you as one of the great minds, and doers in life. Thank you for sharing your gifts, kindness, and brilliance with us all.
June 26, 2018
Mr. Kokx was such an awesome guy. I Wakeboarded with Jason almost every day the summer of 2001&2002. Mr. Kokx always had a smile on his face and was so fun to hang out with on the boat. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Kokx family in this time of mourning. He will always be remembered for his kindness, generosity, and positive outlook on life.
June 24, 2018
Rest, well, Paul., wherever you are. Better than heaven, I’ll bet.
Ina Laura James
June 23, 2018
I met Paul when he was the best man for my husband, Tom James. And Paul truly was the BEST man! He flew into Portland Oregon from Michigan and enthusiastically greeted Tom, gave me a big hug as we were introduced, then clapped his hands together and said, "OK, I'm here for your special day, what can I do?" And he ran around with us doing some errands, seeing some sights, and, mostly, having a BLAST!! He and my mother, who was there by herself all the way from Tennessee, stayed with Tom and me. My mother, Dotti, and Paul hit it off immediately! She was a funny, ready to jump into anything person too so they easily connected. After our beautiful wedding day, Paul and my mother went back to our house and discovered we had locked them out! No problem for Paul! He got them inside and they had a great evening together chatting and laughing. Until she died, my mother spoke highly of Paul - so impressed with him from just one brief visit - and as recently as last month, Paul spoke highly of my mother. I know Paul was such a great support for Tom when they were in college together and he was certainly a great support for us during our wedding. Energetic with a big warm smile - ready and willing to roll with whatever was going on . . . a TRUE friend . . . something rare and someone who will be dearly missed.
June 23, 2018
After college, I got a job with an airline and moved to the beautiful state of Oregon. Paul completed his degree in Civil Engineering a year later. We both had our careers going so we didn't talk a whole lot each year but we would check in with each other to see how the jobs were going and how Paul's children, Staci and Jason, were doing, etc. He was very proud of his kids!!!! I would visit him a few times the next few years, and one time he took us out on his boat, with my nephew Will and Jason on an inner tube Paul was pulling. All of a sudden he yells "HOLD ON!", and I"m thinking what??? and he spins the boat 3/4 way around on a dime and I about fly out of the boat, and I look over at him and he's looking at me with that Paul grin and smirk and then a little laugh to follow. The guy just loved to have FUN!! Then, I finally found the girl, Ina Laura, to marry, and he was my best man!! He had a very busy schedule as usual, but he made time to be a part of my special day, even if it meant coming in late one night and basically leaving 24 hours later flying almost coast to coast in time for our morning wedding in Oregon. He was truly a BEST MAN at my wedding!! Thank You Paul!! Then along came my son, Austin. When we visited Paul he would let Austin (at a young age) play with a remote car running up and down his driveway for the longest time. Austin had the biggest grin on his face! Then more years passed where we didn't talk much until these past 6 months. I touched base with him and Annmarie, that I would be coming to Michigan and they insisted I stay with them in the cottage and in turn showed me all the work done to the Paulyanna. All I can say about that project, UNBELIEVABLE!! The things that guy could do!!! Amazing!!
Paul was always such a great friend to me at important times of my life. I will miss you, my dear Friend!!
June 23, 2018
I met Paul at Michigan State in 1977 because my roommate moved down the hall and I needed a new roommate. The first time I saw Paul he walked into the dorm room with a guitar in one hand and a motorcycle helmet in the other hand. I was thinking is this guy in the right place?? After getting to know Paul a bit and hanging around him more it seemed like there was nothing he couldn't do because he would back it up with what I"m about to mention . He played the guitar, the piano, he would buy old Mercedes and fix them up to run again and sell them to make money. He was in Civil Engineering so he would go to bed early and get up at 5 am every morning to study during the week. We hung out all the time when we weren't in class! We went to dorm parties and discos together. We even like and dated the same girl at different times. Our Motto was to WORK HARD/ PLAY HARD! After our first school year together ended he was going to live in Sylvan for an internship close to where I lived for the summer. So again, we would spend time together and I would go to parties in his neighborhood at the lake. Then he mentioned going back to his hometown in Hart, Michigan where they had a Rocky Mountain Oyster Party every year. Paul introduced me to that! Yum Yum!! My senior year at MSU, Paul, two other guys, and I rented an apartment together. One of the funniest moments that year was when Paul got up at 5 am like always and was out in the living and I heard some loud rustling and he was running around the place with a brown shopping bag trying to catch or remove a bat that was flying around the apartment. Someone had left the screen door to our apartment open!! Truly, Paul's support, encouragement, and humor enabled me to graduate from Michigan State .
June 22, 2018
Our family was devastated to hear of Paul’s untimely passing. He was an amazing brother-in-law and uncle to our kids. We all loved seeing Paul at family functions and enjoyed having dinners with him and Annie and golfing and always loved listening to his stories and knowing how much he loved Annie and their life together. I was always so impressed with how much he helped my mom and dad. He was ready and willing to lend a hand and you could always count on Paul. He was very smart and built a beautiful one-of-a-kind home for him and Annie. We will forever mourn over this loss.
Sharon (Slocum) Hallack
June 22, 2018
Growing up I remember thinking "how cool" all my Kokx cousins were. They were older and lived such interesting lives. Every family gathering doubled when they showed up! Even though it's been years since I've seen some of you, every time we do gather, it's like we've never been apart. Whether it was Thanksgiving at Grandma's, our many family reunions, weddings or even funerals you could bet there would be lots of stimulating conversation and boistrous laughter. In fact that is the first thing I thought about when I heard of Paul's passing, was what a great laugh he had! I can almost hear him "cackling" now! I am so proud to call him one of my cousins and to be part of this beautiful family tree. Praying peace and comfort now and in the days ahead. Sending love and hugs too.
June 22, 2018
I only met Paul one time, while visiting China with Mary Jo and Kent Kattelman last November, 2017 - but what a dynamo! I could have listened to his insights on that remarkable culture and the world all night. Mostly, I stand in admiration of the Kokx kids - so diverse, talented and capable - may you be united in love of life as you grieve Paul's passing. Let the mystery be.
Mary Jo Kattelman
June 21, 2018
Adult life gets full of careers, of raising kids, and of the day to day living. We lose connections with those that are not immediately present in our lives. I live in Missouri but I feel very fortunate to get to know my younger brother again through various family functions, at his and Annmarie’s home, in China, in Colorado and on the phone. He was a man well worth knowing and I am a better person for having known him. He was generous, hardworking, loved his family, and spoke of unconventional ideas that enlarged my world view. I will miss him.
June 21, 2018
I am inspired to share a few words about Paul, my beloved brother in law , after reading Karel’s post.
That Paul was intelligent is undisputed but Paul also had applicable smarts. My husband Jim and I used to call Paul “McGyver” as the man could do anything!
Shamelessly, there was seldom a time when Paul and Annie were at our home, having just stopped by or for a family event, that we didn’t put Paul to task. Could you help fix the dishwasher, install some stairs, even weld a sculpture with my artist husband? He was always game and we had fun.
I am glad for my dad that he had such a nice relationship with Paul, his son in law. The two men had much in common. One an engineer, the other a tool maker by trade, both executives by profession. Both were hard working, successful, unpretentious men who wouldn’t consider hiring out for a job he could do himself, wether he had done it before or not! I’d like to think they are talking shop now.
I spent the night this week at the home Annie and Paul built by hand. Lying on the couch staring at the ceiling, one couldn’t help appreciate the engineering marvel that is their home. It is a work of art from the mind of a true romantic.
Paul’s sudden passing is devastating and we pray for the entire Kokx family.
Please know that we mourn with you together now and will speak kindly of Paul forever.
June 21, 2018
May 19-21,2018 Jean,s place in near Petoskey/boyne city mi. Paul gave his all, unconditionally from when he was a small boy through to his dying day. Nick, Dayle, and Paul(as pictured) accomplishing more and with unsurpassed quality of work in two days than can be imagined. We visited around a camp fire Sunday night recounting memories especially of Dad (Bud Kokx) and each of my brothers memories.
June 21, 2018
3rd continuation ...
Most recently our conversations centered more on mortality and the fast approaching senescence of the Kokx kids. Obviously Dayle and I were supposed to be the first to go—that was an unwritten assumption on all of our parts, I think. While she was alive, Mom continuously prayed for the safety of her children. She’s been gone a few years. Maybe the prayers wore off?
While she was alive, Kokx kids lived through all sorts of extremely dangerous stunts and situations. Each one of us can tell you horror stories. Now it seems we are actually mortal. I wouldn’t have expected Paul to be the first to go, but he always lived with gusto. Some of the stuff he did while building Annmarie and his home could easily have ended with serious injury if not death. I have to think he must have been an outstanding engineer to live through it. The result is the most unique, beautiful home I have ever seen. Each spot on it looks like it grew organically while following the laws of physics. Truly, their home is an outstanding piece of art that I hope stands for many more years.
I’m sure Paul’s employers in China will miss him and his broad expertise, enthusiasm, and energy. Paul’s death is a devastating shock heard around the globe and across the US. I do hope all those who cared about and loved Paul will take comfort in knowing he doesn’t have to spend any time in an old folks home.
I love you and Miss you Paul!
June 21, 2018
This is the first of three parts....
Please take a minute to read this because I want to share some things about Paul that you might not know. Others of you will see him in many different ways because he was a multi-faceted person of high intelligence and multiple skills. I look forward to your views so I can get to know my little brother a bit better.
When he was born as the seventh child of eight, I was 11 and firmly ensconced as the “Little Mother” in a large Catholic family living in rural Michigan and as the children of parents who were typical Michigan farmers’ Depression-era offspring. Yup. Poor but extremely competent.
Paul didn’t seek the family’s attention, but he got a lot of it because of his inventive mind and pleasing personality. When he was still very young, he would memorize a deck of cards and ask you to pick one. He then would thumb through the deck and could tell you exactly the card you had picked. He could then re-shuffle the deck, go through it a couple of times and do the trick over. I wonder if he had a perfect memory?
Paul’s love of dogs started with Frank, a wiener dog they got as a puppy. That dog was his sidekick for many years. Later in life there was Roxanne and then Rocky. Rocky would pace like a show dog. Paul told me he was a real “chick magnet”. Now he has left Kaiser and Max in good hands with Annemarie.
When the family moved to Main Street in Hart, Paul had a paper route that he did on his bike. One time I was home visiting when Mom got a call that a car had hit Paul. Mom and I rushed over—it was only a few blocks away—and Paul was laid out on the ground. I hurried up to him while Mom was holding her face and chanting “Paul, Paul, my Paul”. As soon as I looked into his face, he smiled at me and assured me he was ok. As I remember, that episode ended by him getting up and walking home with us. I don’t know what happened to his bike. I suspect he did his paper route the next day without help.
June 21, 2018
Continuation of previous....
Paul was a person who would drive across the state to see Mom when she was in her waning years. One time he took her for a convertible ride in his new red car. They had a great time tooling around Grand Rapids. She was in her 80’s at the time and had given up any semblance of caution. I think she figured the worst that could happen would be that she would die, something she was looking forward to.
In more recent years, Paul and I would spend time talking about philosophical-political-global ideas. What a treat! He would pose a hypothesis. One in particular I remember is the idea that maybe religion is a human way to transmit wisdom from one generation to another. Not a concept I’ve seen written anywhere but it led to a great discussion about what exactly is wisdom and the history of bad things associated with religious zealots. He and I differed on our politics but we shared common values so we almost always came to some mutually agreeable conclusions.
Another incident illustrating Paul’s outstanding mind occurred when all of the Kokx kids were called to Mesa, AZ because our father had collapsed, was on life support, and supposedly dying. Together we decided it was unacceptable for Dad to lay in the hospital for a long period on life support. So our spokesperson in medical matters, Nick Kokx, MD, visited with Dad’s doctors and gave them a time limit. Meanwhile we were all camped in and about Mom and Dad’s Fifth Wheel. There were two toddlers in the group who kept heading for the narrow road by the trailer. Paul was sitting in a lawn chair while the toddlers’ relatives were all frantically watching that no tragedy occurred with the senior drivers who lived in the RV park. Finally Paul said, “Take off their shoes.” Sure enough, that kept the little buggers on the cement rather than off on the gravel and into the road.
June 21, 2018
When I was little probably 5 years old I thought the old Christmas stockings hung above the fireplace. I thought the "S" was me and Paul teased me and said no count the letters. In Christmas there's Mom, Dad, Dayle, Karel, Nick, Dan, Mary Jo, Jean and Paul. Paul told me you don't have a stocking but he made me a HoHo stocking for the end of Christmas.
He was was really God dang smart guy that whittled wooden chain out of one piece of would and also would tie me up in the chicken coop to to scare the crap out of me.
He also tease me about my name Tara Marie Kokx. He said Tara is Earth, that's dirt. Marie means water mixing together together he got mud. I teased him with his middle name Gerard calling him jar head.
Miss you ... Little Sis