Catherine Isabel (Buffington) Kozak, aka ‘KATE,’ received her angel wings on Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2017. She passed away peacefully at home after a lengthy illness. She was 79.
Born in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia to Jane Cecelia (Hickey) Buffington and William Buffington, she was the youngest of four children. As a child she loved climbing and playing in the woods near Wissahickon Creek and Fairmont Park.
Kate attended Little Flower High School in Philadelphia, where she excelled in music, conducting the high school orchestra. She then entered the novitiate in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Order (IHM), where she studied at Immaculata College and worked as a music teacher. She taught at Our Lady of Grace School in Penndel, before leaving the convent to pursue a different calling. Kate was forever devoted to her Catholic faith, and maintained a special lifelong fondness for the sisters.
Kate then worked in banking at PSFS Bank in Philadelphia. Following a period of travel with girlfriends, she met and married William Joseph ‘Bill’ Kozak, and resided in Northeast Philadelphia for 15 years, before moving to Yardley-Morrisville area in Bucks County. For the next 35 years, Kate and Bill raised four children together and have three grandchildren.
Kate received her Bachelor’s degree from Thomas Edison University and began work for the State of New Jersey, working at Department of Community Affairs (DCA), Bureau of Plan Review and Construction Code Enforcement. There Kate made many friends and became a beloved character at DCA for 25 years. She ate breakfast every morning with colleagues at the Friendly’s in Morrisville, enroute to work in Trenton. At DCA she coordinated many activities, including the weekly NFL football pool (she was known as the ‘Sports Babe’), and the retirement committee, where she personally wrote individual musical ‘roasts’ for each state department retiree, including her superiors. She maintained lifelong friendships with DCA colleagues, even after being forced to retire due to a stroke in 2008.
Kate was extremely devoted to her children, and participated in their many school and collegiate activities. A lifelong Notre Dame football and Villanova basketball fan, she went to many games with her children as alums, and traveled extensively to Villanova, Pa., South Bend, Ind., Los Angeles, Calif., and Honolulu, Hawaii. On one special trip, she traveled to Italy and attended a Papal Mass with the Pope at St. Peter’s in Rome. She and Bill shared a love of sports, including the Philadelphia Eagles, and the above Notre Dame and Villanova teams.
Kate also was an avid musician, playing first violin with the Delaware Valley Philharmonic Orchestra for over 25 years.
Kate was preceded in death by her parents; her brother, William ‘Buff’ Buffington; her sister, Rosemary Buffington; her in-laws, Dorothy and William Kozak; and brother-in-law, Thomas Kozak.
A celebration of her life will be held at a funeral Mass at noon on Friday, Sept. 1, at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church, 752 Big Oak Road, Morrisville, Pa., where a viewing for relatives and friends will precede the Mass from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. The Rite of Committal will follow at Our Lady of Grace Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, please direct contributions in her name to Fox Chase Cancer Center, 333 Cottman Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19111.