Jeffrey L. Kawata, age 62, of Broken Bow, died Friday Jan. 25, 2013 at the Bryan LGH-East Hospital in Lincoln.
Jeffrey Lynn Kawata was born Dec. 31, 1950, to Dolores Hurlbert and Jiro Kawata, in Ord. His family moved to Grand Island, where Jeffrey attended grade school through high school, graduating in 1969 from Grand Island Senior High.
Jeffrey attended the University of Nebraska in Omaha and Lincoln, graduating with a business degree in 1973. Jeffrey married Ann Burke at St. Joseph's Church June 18, 1977. Jeff and Ann had two daughters, Jennifer born Aug. 15, 1980, and Kathleen born Oct. 23, 1983.
Jeffrey spent the majority of his work life as a Probation Officer for the State of Nebraska. He worked for 37 years in the Broken Bow Office retiring in December 2011. Jeffrey believed strongly in the Serenity Prayer and shared it with many of the people he worked with as he encouraged them to make good choices in their lives.
Throughout his life he enjoyed sports, from bow hunting, fishing, and sporting clays, to golf, and tennis. An avid golfer, Jeff was a member of the Broken Bow Country Club until his health no longer allowed him to engage in this sport. He golfed in many tournaments, often partnering with his dad Joe.
The weekend that his oldest daughter was born, Jeff and his dad won the Two Man Best Ball Tournament in Broken Bow. He could often be found on the course, working on an element of his game that he felt he could improve.
Jeff's interest in bow hunting was something he shared with Ann and his daughters, with the family often scouting for deer early on Saturday mornings. Jeffrey also shared this activity with Ann's brothers.
Jeff liked to process his own deer, experimenting with making jerky. In addition to hunting deer, Jeff enjoyed target archery, belonging to several local archery clubs.
Jeffrey was an excellent cook, better than his wife, and showed his love for his and Ann's family through his cooking. He is known for his tempura shrimp, chicken chow mein over fried noodles, prime rib, his special 'chocolate' cake, and Jim Christen's carrot cake. Jeffrey was often called by his daughters asking for guidance with a recipe they were cooking.
In addition to cooking Jeffrey appreciated a really good cup of coffee and could be found on a Saturday morning "date" with Ann, reading the paper and drinking coffee at the local cafe.
Jeff was very family oriented caring deeply for his siblings, their families and Ann's family. Even though his health was declining he was very honored to walk his youngest daughter, Kathleen down the aisle in October 2012. He was extremely proud of his two daughters, very pleased with the good men they chose to spend their lives with and was enjoying his role as a grandpa to Christian and Lillian. As "Grumpa" Jeff he had a mischievous laugh, a special chair and an extra-ordinary way of cracking pistachios.
Jeff challenged those around him to do their best and helped them to grow. He will be remembered for his love of cooking, laughter, being a great conversationalist, quick wit (which sometimes got him into trouble) and love for his family. He was preceded in death by his father, Joe Kawata and mother, Dolores Kawata, and brother James Kawata. Jeffrey is survived by his wife, Ann of Broken Bow; daughter, Jennifer and son-in-law Paul Muzquiz of Tucson, Ariz.; daughter, Kathleen and son-in-law Jason Gaddis of Warner Robbins, Ga.; sister, Cathy and brother-in-law Ron Christensen of Grand Island; brother, David Kawata of Greely, Colo.; grandchildren, Christian Paul and Lillian Rae Muzquiz; and a number of nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Funeral services were Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Broken Bow with Father Jim Hunt officiating. Burial was in St. Joseph's Catholic Cemetery with Govier Brothers Mortuary of Broken Bow in charge of the arrangements.
Published in Custer County Chief, Jan. 31, 2013