Steven Donald Kotzerke


12/16/1955  –  9/20/2022


image of Steven Kotzerke

Steven Kotzerke

With an extremely heavy heart we had to say goodbye to my beloved husband, Steve Kotzerke, born December 16, 1955. He was survived by his wife of 40 years, Jolene, mother, Gerry Williams, lovely daughters; Breanna Gaynor and Molly Dahlgren and husband Aaron Dahlgren and their 3 children; Wesley, Sophie and Henry. Also, his beloved sisters; Debbie MacVittie and husband Walter MacVittie, Julie Wentz and husband Brian Wentz and their children Michael and Brittany Wentz, along with their stepmother Bonnie Kotzerke. Jolene’s brother Steve Jaffe and wife Caroline, niece and nephew Stacy and Michael Jaffe Jr., and brother Michael Jaffe and wife Rhonda. We also have many extended family members near and far.

Steve was born in 1955 in Spokane Washington and raised in Edmonds Washington and attended the University of Washington as a Sigma Nu. He was a thirty-year season ticket holder for his Huskies.

His passions for outdoor activities included golf, snow skiing and waterskiing, tennis and his most recent passion was hiking in California and Washington on portions of the Pacific Crest Trail. He was an amazing athlete and lived it well. He cared very little about material possessions but his priority was living life to the fullest.

Steve’s incredible loyalty, integrity and compassion for his family was his greatest priority in life. Raising two daughters he had a calmness and a way of saying just the right thing. Becoming a Papa to his grandchildren was over the moon for him. He was thrilled whenever he could love and hold and be with them.

Steve loved numbers and spreadsheets and competing all at the same time. He’d have color coded spreadsheets of who beat who at skiing or golf and love competing at most any game up to the last week of his life. He even made a feeding time spreadsheet when the twins were preemies and on such a rigorous schedule.

He must have been born on a sunny day -he woke up happy and came home from work happy. He had a joyous love for life. People always loved Steve for his ease of companionship and sense of humor. One of his lines was “Aren’t you glad I’m the first person you get to see this morning!”

He was taken too early by non-smoker adenocarcinoma lung cancer that came out of nowhere and was aggressive as a Stage 4 diagnosis a year ago. Thankfully his girls were able to be with him the last weekend of his life and hold him closely. We are thankful to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and Hospice services for all the support they gave us along this journey.

We have been so blessed by the outpouring of kindness of dear friends and family for over a year of consistent and loving support – weekly love notes, prayer warriors around the world, flowers, dinners, gardening, handyman, board game pals, airport shuttles, toys for grandkid visits, and texts and hugs along the way. I could not have done this without all of you!

“Find a life worth enjoying, take risks, love deeply and always have rebellious hope!”

Friends and family members who want to donate and contribute to the bench in Steve’s memory can do so by making a gift online at:

Choose “Hospice Services” in the designation drop-down menu and then check Tribute Gift to get the menu to enter Steve’s name.

His life will be celebrated Oct 30th from 11-2 at Matt’s rotisserie and oyster lounge in Redmond WA.

10 Responses to “Steven Donald Kotzerke”

  • Chase Nielsen says:

    Jolene and family,

    I am sorry to hear read about Steve’s passing. I was a peer manager with him on the 787 Supply Management Alenia team and worked with him up to the day he retired. I enjoyed golfing with him and did witness his competive nature. I never saw him lose his composure at work or on the golf course. He was a calming influence to those he was with. He is one of the great human beings I have had the pleasure to associate with.

    Lastly, I chuckled when you mentioned he had a spreadsheet for everything. One day I mentioned that I had a goal to lose 30 pounds. He immediately took interest in what my plan was to accomplish the goal. Then he took a corner of the white board in my cubicle and drew a chart. He said he wanted me to track my progress and he would check in with me daily. He did, and always provided encouragement to meet the goal. With his help, I lost the 30 pounds.

    He will always be in my bank of good memories. To you and your family I give my heart felt condolances.


  • Dennis ichikawa says:

    This world is a better place because of Steve’s daily contributions. His joy, encouragement, strength, and courage are legacies to all who knew him.

  • Debbie MacVittie says:

    I love that Steve lived life to the fullest. He was a wonderful man and a fabulous brother. I am sure Steve is up to some kind of shenanigans already………Love and miss you.

  • Russ Ulrich says:

    So sorry to hear about Steve’s passing. It feels like yesterday when I ran into him at Snohomish golf course, which of course he was his jovial self, displaying a huge smile and a telling a simple joke about playing the game. I first met Steve, Jolene, and daughters Molly, and Breanna through our soccer connection. My daughter, Kelli and Molly were soccer teammates. Steve, Rocky and I found our way to coaching the team, which worked out perfectly. Steve’s dry sense of humor and calmness always blended well with my intense practice and game plans. Later in life after our daughter’s team had disbanded, I ran into Steve at work on the 787 Program. As before, Steve’s calmness and dry sense of humor helped lessen the stress of the job. Steve was always the person you could count on during times of stress and pressure to take a step back and see things more clearly. Even though I didn’t hang out with Steve and his wonderful family, I always considered Steve as a good friend – heck, he even taught me how to make the best Manhattan that I have shared his special recipe with my many friends. Rest in Peace my friend, you will be greatly missed.

  • Tad Harmon says:

    I can say with absolute certainty that there was never a time in my life that I saw Steve—Kod as most of us called him affectionately—and he didn’t make me smile and feel excited to be with him. After moving out here and transferring to UW from the east coast, I didn’t know a soul, but Steve quickly enrolled me in cribbage, and that was that. We looked for one another daily and nightly for a game, and those who play it know it to be a wonderful way to pass time while talking and laughing and on occasion, drinking a beer or two. (Or pretty much every occasion.)

    I swear I might have earned another point on my GPA if not for Kod. Because literally, I just wanted to hang out with him whenever possible. Why that is the case can be found in Joleen’s eloquent obit. Steve was forever young, and his youthful, charming, often mischievous appearance and constant smile and twinkling blue eyes and willingness to easily and always have fun was addictive and mood elevating. And just so easy.

    When I first heard this debilitating and unbelievable news, I called Mike. And then Randy, with whom we travelled to Disneyland. Neither of us could process it. Steve was the one that would outlive us all. He maintained that youthful appearance, he was fit, and from all outward appearances he avoided the pitfalls of the the stupid kind of stress.

    Steve and I hitch hiked from LA to Palm Springs, seeking the storied reverie of Spring Break with California coeds and swimming parties. When we got there, there wasn’t a youthful face to be seen. We were close to penniless and not having a clue where to go — so we borrowed a few grapefruit from a nearby orchard, and spent our last dollars on a rack of Coors, and of course we laughed and enjoyed another great moment because that is all you could have in his company.

    Later in life we boated up to Roche Harbor in his sail boat (which he ran so masterfully and effortlessly like everything else he did) except, there was no wind. So we puttered for hours. We ate and drank three days worth of provisions that afternoon. Was that yet another of my mostly fun memories of all time? Of course. Twenty games of crib on a boat in the middle of the sound with three days supply of rum and beer with Kod. Pity the poor people of RH when we sailed in that evening.

    I’m sorry to ramble on so but I have barely been able to function since I’ve heard this news, because it simply isn’t fair, it simply doesn’t make sense, and I am so utterly sad, for you Jolene, your daughters and families and our mutual friends as well, Marty and Cherf and Dave Campbell and Brian and so many others.

    And sad for myself. Because in my stupidity, I always knew that there would be a day when I could once again sit on a porch either in Kirkland, or in PS., with my dear sweet buddy Kod, laugh about some memories, and play cribbage until it was time to let Jolene get some sleep. That was a dream I carried with me, knowing I better get my ass in shape because Steve would live forever so I better take care of myself to keep up. And there in lies the message, right?

    This is a heartbreaker. Steve I hope you know how much I loved and appreciated you.

  • Lisa Unwin Parks says:

    Jolene your darling daughters an his mom Jeri, I’m am so sorry for your loss. Steve was like a second brother to me. I loved to give him shit! He was my beloved brother Marks best friend along with Tom herman. They were the 3 musketeers and trouble lol. Steve will be truly miss by my family and by all of yours. He makes me smile just the thought of him. Rest in peace dear soul, I Love you with all my heart. Lisa Parks and family.

  • Michael Nelson says:

    Life just isn’t fair.
    A life cut short, we are left to reflect, see our own path and how to deal with the end. Sad how death wakes you up. Kod (Steve) lived life to the fullest all his family and friends can attest. Such a genuinely great guy, always a welcoming smile. It feels like no time has passed, even though a lifetime has slipped by in seeing him. As I feel the gentle autumn breeze and watch the leaves change colors I will think of Kod, his life and his effect on those around him, with a smile, as he would have.

  • Marquand Cheek says:

    These tributes to Steve are so beautiful & reflect upon the kind & successful man he truly was for all who had the joy of knowing him.
    I met Steve in late 1974 as we became Sigma Nu brothers at the University of Washington. We became as close as real brothers as the years at college progressed.
    We had similar backgrounds as the only boys in our families growing up, then we both sought & earned business degrees; we shared Social Chairman duties at the Fraternity and a room in the Frat our Senior year. He made a huge impact on me and was always inspiring, curious and funny as one can be! I remember laughing so hard watching him dance with a mask on to ‘Hit me with your best shot’. It still makes me smile.
    Steve was ultra-competitive too, whether tossing a frisbee, playing our nightly game of cribbage, shooting baskets, playing pool or throwing darts, you knew you had to focus to even have a chance to compete with him!
    We remained close even after college, sharing an apartment in Ballard and later a house with Tom Hermann & Don Nordby near Lake Washington. It was about this time that we would both start dating our future wives. Steve was captivated by Jolene. They wed in March of 1982 and we would follow in November of that same year. Steve and Jolene raised two wonderful children: Breanna & Molly. He would also become a very proud Grandfather of three adorable kids. Thankfully, his positive impact & legacy goes on through family & friends.
    We will miss Steve terribly. We are eternally thankful for the time we did spend together.
    I’ll close with a poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson that encapsulates the successful life that Steve shared:
    “To laugh often and much;
    To win the respect of intelligent
    people and the affection of children…
    To appreciate beauty, to find
    the best in others; To leave the world
    a bit better, whether by a healthy child,
    a garden patch or a redeemed social
    condition; To know even one life has
    breathed easier because you have lived.
    This is to have succeeded.”

  • Beth Tuura says:

    So many great memories of Steve. Skiing at Stevens Pass , HS keggers and German class. He was full of laughter; definitely one of a kind.
    I’m sad he is no longer with us but I am forever grateful to have been just one small part of his life.
    My condolences to his family and friends.

  • Greg Poehlman says:

    I am so sorry to hear of Steve’s passing. I knew Steve through my older brother Paul and will always remember Steve for being the calm reasonable voice of reason between the two. Sure Steve chose a path to live life to the fullest but he did so in a grounded gentle way.

    I have fond memories of work parties at their joint cabin in Idaho and am glad for both of them & families that you all had that chapter together.

    Steve & Paul chose different paths when confronted with illness and sadly drifted apart at the end. I know this saddened Steve & I can only hope they’re reconnecting to cause a little mischief eternally.

    RIP Steve.

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