Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Roger Kaminski

Roger Kaminski, benefactor of Lacoochee, dies at age 61

LACOOCHEE — When leaders snipped the ribbon on a 16,000-square-foot community center in January, Roger Kaminski said the prayer.

To those attending, it seemed only natural that Mr. Kaminski, who had lived in the area for years with his wife and Lacoochee native, Marion, would be the one to do that.

"They had a passion for the community," said Mark Springer, a close friend. "With it being so impoverished they were always trying to improve it."

On Thursday, Mr. Kaminski, who had operated a Christian coffeehouse in the area for nearly 10 years, organized countless cleanups and rallied residents to the cause of bettering their community, died at Florida Hospital Zephyrhills. He was 61.

Friends said he had begun to feel ill about a month earlier.

"We expected him to pull out of this," Springer said.

News of his death sent shock waves through the tiny community.

"He touched so many lives as a teacher, volunteer, mentor and friend," Michelle Miller, who works for Pasco County government, posted on Mr. Kaminski's Facebook page. "Multiple generations of people have been impacted by his commitment to his community."

Miller had worked closely with Mr. Kaminiski and the community to secure a $300,000 federal grant to build the community center and revitalize the area.

Mr. Kaminski was delighted with the progress, friends said. But he was also making his own positive difference years before, when Lacoochee was "the forgotten part of the county," Springer said.

Shortly after a local teen fatally shot Pasco Sheriff's Lt. Charles "Bo" Harrison outside a nightclub in 2003, Mr. Kaminski and his wife, along with two other couples, opened the Christian Edge, a coffeehouse near the nightclub. Most Saturday nights it was packed as bands banged out Christian rock, gospel and rap. Many times, Mr. Kaminski, who sang and played guitar, accordion, harmonica, harp and cello, was on the stage.

"The main thing we want to do is bring people together," Mr. Kaminski told the then-St. Petersburg Times in 2004. "People who have lived here all their lives could come in, start up a conversation with someone they don't know, and all of a sudden, they find out all these things they have in common."

Mr. Kaminski came to the area in 1973 from Lemont, Ill. He worked about 35 years for the Pasco County School District as a media supervisor. In 1997, he married the former Marion Durden, a Lacoochee Elementary School teacher. He even changed his middle name to Durden in the interest of unity.

Richard Riley, a friend and fellow member of the revitalization group, said the coffeehouse "was always inclusive and welcoming to people of all faiths and ethnic origins."

During a 2012 bus tour of the area, when others gawked at "the worst house in Lacoochee," Mr. Kaminski did more than just look out the window. He organized a group to refurbish it.

Friends say that was typical.

"I never thought of it before, but I realize that he was my best friend," Riley said. "I wish I had told him that."

>> Biography

Roger Kaminski

Born: May 30, 1952

Died: March 27, 2014

Survivors: Wife, Marion; two sons, Benjamin and Daniel, both of Odessa; a brother, Earl, of Chicago; two sisters, Diane Taskay, of Tomahawk, Wis., and Claire Cimino, of Lemont, Ill.

Service: Visitation is 4-6 p.m. Sunday at Hodges Family Funeral Home on U.S. 301 in Dade City. The funeral is at 2 p.m. Monday at the funeral home.

Memorials may be made to the Christian Edge Dream Center, P.O. Box, 2, Lacoochee, FL 33537.

Roger Kaminski, benefactor of Lacoochee, dies at age 61 03/28/14 [Last modified: Saturday, March 29, 2014 10:00am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs journal: Kicker Nick Folk has up and downs against Jaguars

    Bucs

    JACKSONVILLE — If the Bucs had hoped for a drama-free night in their kicking game, they'll have to wait another week.

    Bucs kicker Nick Folk celebrates one of his two made field goals against the Jaguars, but he also misses a field goal and has an extra point blocked.
  2. Late night update: Second wave follows Tropical Storm Harvey

    Hurricanes

    UPDATE: At 11 p.m. the National Hurricane Center said a hurricane hunter plane had determined that Tropical Storm Harvey had formed with sustained winds of 40 mph.

    Three tropical waves are expected to strengthen as they move across the Atlantic Ocean. [Courtesy of the National Hurricane Center]
  3. Stealth anti-Jack Latvala group tied to Adam Putnam campaign

    Blogs

    Politico reports:

     A longtime political consultant for Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam is behind a website calling one of his rivals in the race, state Sen. Jack Latvala, a “liberal.”

  4. Council gives in to pension dispute with St. Pete firefighters

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The City Council was forced to consider its first labor dispute in years Thursday when it gave the firefighters union most of the pension enhancements it has long asked for.

    The firefighters’ union won a pension victory at Thursday’s City Council meeting. [SCOTT KEELER    |      TIMES]
  5. Bucs top Jaguars behind strong first half

    Bucs

    JACKSONVILLE

    There is a reason why the air in Tampa Bay is filled with playoff talk. If Thursday night's 12-8 Bucs preseason win over the Jaguars is any indication, it's also going to be filled with footballs thrown by quarterback Jameis Winston.

    Doug Martin gets the Bucs’ only touchdown  on a 2-yard run, squeaking past linebacker Telvin Smith in the first quarter. He has five carries for 30 yards.