Chester Richard Kowalski

May 29, 1935January 4, 2019

Chester “Chet” Richard Kowalski was born on May 29, 1935, in Scotia, New York, and passed on January 4, 2019, in Merritt Island, Florida. Chet spent his early years at the Woestina School in Rotterdam Junction, NY. He joined the military in 1953, retiring honorably in 1976 as a First Sergeant after 23 years of service. Along the way, Chet was stationed in at least 10 different locations, including Indiana, Wisconsin, Colorado, New Jersey, Texas, Hawaii, Florida, Germany, and Japan. He served two tours in Vietnam and, throughout his life, was intensely proud of his service and grateful for his experiences and the camaraderie. Chet was awarded a Bronze Star Medal with Valor – the 4th highest military award for valor – for heroism in 1967 in Vietnam. As documented in the award, Chet “remained in the open during an intense mortar attack without consideration for his own safety and directed an effective and devastating assault upon the enemy. Sergeant Kowalski demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities under intense combat conditions and his valorous performance of duty under enemy fire reflects greatly upon himself and the military service.” He also received a Meritorious Service Medal in 1976 and other honorable service certificates. After retiring from military life, Chet worked as a building inspector for the city of Melbourne Beach, FL, and then a building official for the city of Rockledge, FL. He enjoyed spending time with his longtime partner, Marianna Hunstad, relaxing, going bowling, gambling, and traveling. One of his favorite trips was to Poland where he explored where his family had been from. Chet was a lifetime member of the Elks Lodge in Merritt Island, FL, and was a member of both the VFW and the American Legion. Chet had two children, Marlene and Gina, from his marriage to Dolores Falcigno Kowalski. He enjoyed seeing 7 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren born. Chet is predeceased by his parents, Steven and Ida Kowalski, his daughter, Marlene Kowalski Bumpus (Stuart), and a granddaughter, Holly Bumpus Garza (Eric). He is survived and lovingly remembered by his daughter, Gina Palmer (John), grandchildren Charles, Matt (Shannon), Andrea (Kevin), Joseph (Cali), Thomas, and Julie, great-grandchildren, Carson, Jake, Madelyn, and Gracelyn, and many other family members, friends, and service buddies. Friends and family will be received at the Wylie-Baxley Funeral Home (1360 N Courtenay Pkwy, Merritt Island) from 9-10am on Monday, January 14. A service will be held at 10am. Military burial will follow at 1pm at Cape Canaveral National Cemetery (5525 US Highway 1, Mims). A celebration of life will be held on February 2 at the Elks Lodge in Merritt Island from 2-4pm (1520 Sykes Creek Pkwy, Merritt Island). All are invited on February 2, but please rsvp to Marianna.


  • Funeral Service Monday, January 14, 2019
  • Committal Service Monday, January 14, 2019

Chester Richard Kowalski

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Jim Elmore

February 18, 2019

Bowled with Chet for a few years in a City bowling league. Mr. Kowalski was definitely a one of a kind individual. One of my fondness memories was when Chet had me guide him on a flats fishing trip to Mosquito Lagoon just after his retirement from the City of Rockledge. We had a great day of fishing and plenty of laughs.

Praying for this good mans family.

Stuart Bumpus

January 8, 2019

This wonderful man was like a Father to me for almost 40-years. I married his beautiful daughter, Marlene. We had so many great times together, whether it was at an Orlando Magic game, or just being out in the boat with him, or just watching his beloved Atlanta Braves.

He was a very brave man, as he completed two (2) tours of Vietnam, and was awarded the coveted Bronze-Star with Valor. He fought so hard to overcome the Agent Orange that he caught in the jungles of Vietnam! Salute to you Sir, and may you enjoy the solitude in Heaven!

Charlotte Laurance

January 8, 2019

Mr. Chet (as I grew up knowing him), was the closest thing I had to a grandfather. He was so kind, and loving, and really great bowler. He loved my Babcia (Marianna) and our family with all of his heart. I will never forget all the wonderful memories I was lucky enough to share with him. A hilarious human, always up for a margarita and quality time. I love you so much, may he Rest In Peace.