Robert James Kakuska

June 9, 1926July 16, 2018
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Robert James (Bob) Kakuska, son of Frank and Rosalie Kakuska of Downers Grove, Illinois passed away peacefully Monday evening, July 16. Born on June 9, 1926, Bob recently celebrated his 92nd birthday. He is predeceased by his brother Frank, and wife of 68 years, Evelyn, who passed on December 7, 2017.

Bob graduated from Downers Grove High School in 1944, where he was a 4-year starter on the Varsity Football Team. An avid sportsman and outdoorsman, Bob enjoyed hunting and fishing throughout his life. After high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and within a year was engaged in combat operations on Okinawa as a heavy machine gunner with the 10th Army, 96th Infantry Division, “The Deadeyes”, and received numerous commendations for meritorious achievement in battle including the Bronze Star. After WWII, Bob met and married the love of his life, Evelyn Roge, starting a family in Naperville, Illinois. He also resumed his lifetime love of working on cars. His career began at a local Buick dealership and eventually advanced to the position of an instructor at General Motors Institute, which relocated the family to Fenton, Michigan in 1966.

After retirement in 1985, Bob volunteered with the International Executive Service Corps, traveling to Jamaica for 3 years teaching the latest automotive repair and paint techniques. He and Evelyn moved to Ruidoso, New Mexico in 1990 to be near his son, Mike and his family, then relocated to Bend, Oregon in 2003 to be near his daughter, Nancy. After Evelyn passed away in December of 2017, Bob moved to North Palm Beach, Florida to live with his son, Reed.

Bob enjoyed restoring old cars and spending time with his children and grandchildren. His favorite pastimes included hunting, fishing, reading, watching his beloved Cubs, playing cards and dominos. An annual fishing trip to Phillips, Wisconsin was the highlight of his year, in fact, on the day he died he planned the final details of his next trip.

Bob was a mentor and friend to many. He will be dearly missed. He is survived by his children: Mike (Linda) Kakuska of Ruidoso, New Mexico; Nancy (Bob) Haas of Bend, Oregon; Reed Kakuska (Tina Van De Graaf) of North Palm Beach, Florida. He is also survived by his grandchildren and great-grandchildren: Michael Kakuska of San Diego, California; Erik (Kara) Kakuska and their children, Evy and Iza, of Portland, OR; Amanda (John) Gaston and their children, Knox and Mara of Johannesburg, Republic of South Africa; and Robert (Clair) Kakuska and their children, Robert James and Madelyn, of Reno, NV. He is also survived by many nieces and nephews.

His family wishes to thank the Sunflower Team of Trustbridge Hospice and the doctors and nurses of the West Palm Beach Veterans Medical Center for their help and support. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to your local hospice.

Bob will be interred in the family plot in Chapel Hill Cemetery on August 3, 2018. A memorial service will be held Friday morning at 10 am in Chapel Hill Gardens West Funeral Home, Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois. A public vigil is scheduled from 3 – 8 pm on Thursday, August 2, 2018.


  • Visitation Thursday, August 2, 2018
  • Chapel Service Friday, August 3, 2018
  • Burial Friday, August 3, 2018

Robert James Kakuska

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Stephen Becker

August 1, 2018

Bob Kakuska lives large in my memories. Mr. K was larger than life, loud and audacious in a way that was fascinating to me as a kid.

He was an outdoorsman who lived for fishing trips, a WWII veteran who witnessed the horrors of Okinawa first-hand from a foxhole, a lover of all things automotive. A stern father with a John Wayne swagger, yet who oozed affection that belied the Grizzly Bear veneer.

I recall sitting in the back of a new Buick when Mr. K decided to see what it could do. He buried the speedometer needle as we roared up Denton Hill Road. This was followed by a stern “Don’t tell Mom” warning to Reed and me.

He declared one day that I would learn how to waterski on Silver Lake that evening. Craving his respect forced me to overcome my fear because I did not want to appear wimpy in front of him. A few years latter he entrusted me to pilot the boat so he could ski. I was so preoccupied with not sinking that I neglected to note that my speed was WAY over the optimum velocity for a skier. He told me it was one wild ride.

When Reed moved away, I still visited occasionally. One evening he invited me to take the boat out as the sun set. We talked about latest Buick line, how proud he was of Reed (something he probably never said so directly to him), life and paint finishes. I confided to him that I did not feel like an adult and asked him when he reached that milestone. He told me he’d let me know when it happened. Somewhere on that cruise, he stopped being Mr. Kakuska and became Bob, and I stopped being a kid and became an adult talking with another adult.

When Linnie entered my life, the Ks were amongst the first Michiganders to meet her. I was amazed to watch the Grizzly Bear transform into a Teddy Bear when they met.

Now I write these words with tears in my eyes, but with joy that I had this wonderful influence in my life. Thank you Mr. K


Frank Kakuska (Pops), Bob Kakuska's father with his brother Frank, circa 1945.


Wooden boat that Pops built while Dad was overseas during WWII (along with beloved family dog).


Bob Kakuska's mother, Rosalie, posing with the family dog. I believe these photos were sent to Dad while he was overseas during WWII.


Dad's mom Rosalie with family dog, circa 1945.


Bob Kakuska with son Reed in Naperville house during what appears to be Dad's birthday, circa 1965.


Looks like a family dinner at Pop's with Rosalie, Uncle Frank, and Aunt Mary.


Mom (Evelyn), Dad (Bob), daughter Nancy and son Reed at house on Jayne Hill in Fenton, Michigan circa 1969.


Bad upload of a picture of Dad in his office at work, circa 1970.