Vera J. Kotiza

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Vera J. Kotiza

February 07, 1918 - March 02, 2019

Vera J. Kotiza Vera Julia Kotiza was born February 7, 1918 Chicago to Emil and Rose Herda Babka. Father, professional photographer and landscape painter and mother, pianist, she grew up surrounded by the arts. Every Friday the family would take the EL to The Art Institute of Chicago. Only natural Vera would embody these passions, so after attending Morton College, Cicero, IL she headed to Grinnell College, IA where she received Bachelors of Music 1939. She was also singing in the Chicago Metropolitan Opera Chorus and other venues in several languages.
Upon graduation Vera had the opportunity to be the music instructor in Wakefield, MI. She taught and presented several concerts before returning to her beloved Bohemian (Czech) neighborhood in Cicero. There Vera taught Music and PE, every student learning to swim before graduation because of the Eastland ferry disaster claiming 844 lives. She married Edward Divis Jan 1, 1945 and continued to teach until daughter born 1947. As Bohemians migrated to Berwyn so did the family. Vera was offered a position teaching 4th grade at Irving School in Berwyn. When the music opening came, she chose to stay with her middle school students for over 30 years. During these decades Vera obtained another 36 credit hours as well as conducting and presenting church choir productions. Vera divorced in 1974.
Vera continued teaching until remarried 1979. Her long ago college sweetheart Edward Kotiza came back to visit his sister, who reintroduced them. Love at first sight, he signed every card More than yesterday. Originally an engineer at Western Electric in Cicero, he transferred to St Louis ATT, split to Lucent. In Chesterfield, MO, Vera joined book clubs and Claymont Estates Investment. Attending a Foreign Affairs class at George Washington University, she taught the class whenever the instructor went to Europe. She and Edw loved to travel from Disneyworld in FL to Alaskan cruise, and a special time in Hawaii since he was a retired Navy lieutenant. Then they traveled to Canada and Mexico, all over Europe and Russia, Japan, China, Thailand, and Hong Kong, experiencing many cultures.
After his death, Vera studied art in Italy. Then she invited her daughter to travel three weeks exploring Fiji, Tahiti, Moorea, New Zealand and Australia. All experiences were treasured: fire dancers, Gauguin, glowworm cave, penguin rookery, Maori art to bird nest soup in Melbourne. After her daughters retirement, they went each month to her home in St Louis and her daughters home in Stillwater, OK where she joined book club and attended the Unitarian Church. Other ventures were yearly Mensa Conventions in different locales, and many trips with family and friends. Last major trip at 100 years of age was to the Florida Keys where Vera enjoyed a glass bottom boat tour, rode a speedboat to see dolphins, and held an alligator. Her house sold last April and Vera moved to permanently live with her daughter. Turning 101, Vera continued to enjoy music, crosswords and family time until passing March 2, 2019.
Proceeded in death by her parents and beloved husband, Vera is survived by her daughter Lorna Rose Stein, granddaughter Heather Lynne Stein Jerome and great grandson Andrew Edward of Stillwater, OK, and grandson Edward L. Stein and his wife Laurel Anne of Soquel CA, all of whom will miss her brilliant wit, wisdom and sweet nature. Contributions may be sent to The Nature Conservancy.
Published on March 13, 2019
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