Gregory Valentine Konz-Krzyminski
Gregory Valentine Konz-Krzyminski
Gregory was the loving husband of Raymond Paul Konz-Krzyminski (né Konz), cherished father of Jill (Charles) Stanton and Jeffrey Krzyminski and precious Baba to Eleanor Rose Stanton. He will remain forever in their minds and hearts.
He was born on July 7, 1946, to +Stanley and +Loretta Krzyminski. He passed away of an Aortic Dissection while in his husbands arms and entered into the Holiness of God on Sunday, November 7, 2021.
A most beloved brother in a tight-knit, Catholic, Polish, South Chicago family, his siblings were James (Patricia) Krzyminski, Paulette (Les) Gonzalez, Claudette (Patrick) McShane, Marylynn (Richard) Collentine, David Krzyminski (Robert Malandrino) and Thomas Krzyminski (Holly Brajcich). Greg was a very special brother-in-law to Mary El Kastelic, Michael Konz, Eugenia (William) Grant and Patricia Konz. He is also survived by dear Cathleen Bourdon and other cherished family and friends around the world.
Raymond and family are most grateful to K. Robert Shen, MD and Charles Clayton, NP of Mayo Clinic and John Sanidas, MD, Chad Stepke, MD, Mark Leitschuh, MD, Varsha Shah, MD, Dima Adl, MD and Columbia/St Mary’s—Milwaukee Van Dyke Cancer Center, Pulmonary Rehab, Wound Clinic, Emergency Department, Inpatient and other Outpatient staff and Staff at the Center for Advanced Care at Froedtert. Also many thanks to Bernadette Demuri, MD and Bernie Miller, MSW. Very special thanks to the to the Intensive Care and Management Staff at Columbia/St. Mary’s—Milwaukee for superlative care and compassion allowing opportunities for some to say a final goodbye to Gregory.
Greg came to Milwaukee in the mid 1960s to study at Marquette University and earned a BA. Along with Cathleen Bourdon for three years they served as educators in Ethiopia with the US Peace Corps. He later earned a MA in History from UW-Milwaukee. Daughter, Jill arrived in 1977 and son, Jeffrey in 1982. Greg had an early interest in and discovered a skill in food preparation based on the unavailability of potato chips in Ethiopia–he decided to make them. He loved to tell his potato chip story when asked about his start in the culinary arts. He earned certification from the Chef’s Apprentice Certification program at Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC). After graduation, he joined a fellow Chef Apprentice in opening a restaurant in Milwaukee’s North Shore. Countless people have been fortunate to experience Greg’s culinary and baking talents. He was incredibly generous and loved to make others happy through his gift of cooking for them.
He met Raymond Paul Konz in the mid-1980s and to their surprise fell quickly and deeply in love, attracted to each other for many reasons to include their good nature, humor, interests in the hospitality industry and mutual spiritual and family values. They moved into their downtown Milwaukee love nest in 1983 and it was assumed because of it’s attractive “happening” location became the “go-to” spot for many family member and friends. Greg worked as chef garde manger at Milwaukee’s Hotel Pfister at the same time Raymond was a server in Pfister’s English Room. His love of education and teaching included a 16 year career at Mid State Technical College (MSTC)–Wisconsin Rapids as a respected Hospitality Instructor and Director of both Culinary Arts Program and Multicultural Services until his retirement in 2003 and then later as an Ad Hoc Instructor/Editor for Lufthansa Airlines in Liverpool. His love of teaching was inherent. He treasured experiences as an Academic Advisor at UW-Milwaukee and Ad Hoc Food Service Instructor for MATC. He touched many students lives during his career by emphasizing humane virtues and morals along with the subject matter. He was sought out to reconnect by grateful former pupils around the globe.
Greg was a most enthusiastic actor, director, stage manager and supporter of theater in the Milwaukee area but especially at Wisconsin Rapids Community Theater (WRCT). Some of his favorite performances were locally in “The Tempest,” “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Identita,” and “The Butler Did It,” and with Wisconsin Rapids Community Theater (WRCT) in “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” “I Never Sang for My Father,” “Social Security,” “The Odd Couple,” playing a nun in “Nunsense,” and the award winning “The Gin Game.” He directed “A Christmas Carol,” “Heaven Can Wait,” and was just preparing to co-direct “Deathtrap” this season with WRCT. Greg participated in so many wonderful productions over the years at WRCT and this year heard in “Winter Frost,” a virtual production based on the poetry of Robert Frost. Greg provided the voice over talent for all poems between the poems that were acted out: Click on the link for “Winter Frost” and to hear Greg’s voice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJuRJnGJ5W8 He was serving on board of Milwaukee’s Boulevard Theater. He was a founding Member of Galano Club of Milwaukee, a 12-Step Recovery Club for LGBT persons and allies and was a Board member of former SAGE/Milwaukee—a LGBT senior support organization.
He had a lifelong enthusiasm and endurance for travel both in the United States and internationally including Africa, Poland, most of Europe, Chile, New Zealand, parts of Asia, Trinidad and Tobago. He inspired travel for Raymond, family, friends and others. His travel bug was contagious. While on staff at MSTC, he partnered with EF Tours in arranging group travel. Many in the Wisconsin Rapids area thanked him for opening the door to their international experiences. He recently got his passport renewed and told Jill to get hers and Eleanor’s up to date because he was going to take them to Paris soon. Most recently Eleanor Rose asked him how many countries had he visited and she took a guess of 100. He said, “No, more like 40!” She said, “Baba, then I will go to the other countries and think of you when I am there.”
Because of a desire to declare their love, Greg and Raymond were strong advocates of marriage equality. Impatient for the right thing to happen they decided to proclaim their relationship and commitment after 20 years with a Blessing Ceremony in 2003 at The Wisconsin Club which was written up in the New York Times Society Section. They were photographed and interviewed for “Shall Not Be Recognized” an exhibit of thirty same-sex couples in long-term, committed relationships in response to the November 2006 general election where Wisconsin voters passed a resolution to amend the state constitution to make it unconstitutional for the state to recognize or perform same-sex marriages and civil unions. Also in response he and Raymond hyphenated their surnames to Konz-Krzyminski. Greg, not having a middle name, chose his grandfather’s name–giving him the name Gregory Valentine Konz-Krzyminski. He said to suspiciously homophobic folks, “Well, that’s 31 letters, So Recognize This!” When New York first got marriage equality, niece Roberta and children suggested they come to New York to make it legal and there was no thinking about it. They married at Christ and St. Stephen’s Church, Upper Westside on November 12, 2011. Several years later, on Friday afternoon, June 6, 2014, (the same date Eleanor Rose was born) marriage equality was born in Wisconsin.
You may have been at the table as his shark-like card playing/board game instinct kicked in all the while maintaining his civility. These games increased most frequently after his successful February Esophageal Cancer surgery and it wasn’t uncommon for Raymond and Greg to be playing 500 Rummy or Rummikub at all hours of the late evening or rather, early morning. It became some of the best times together in their last months. They also loved just being alone together in the car for the 1.5 hours weekly drive to and from getting Eleanor Rose from school and to swimming classes. They would enthusiastically cheer her progression in classes from Jellyfish to Dolphin levels. Greg had a very special devotion to the Blessed Mother to include making pilgrimages with Raymond to the shrine of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa and praying the rosary by phone weekly with extended family for protection during the current pandemic.
Greg was quietly a co-founder of one of the largest online missionary entities in the world with almost 1.3 million followers, most gay friendly of course. It has been said that without him the number would have been unthinkable. He contributed with his ideas in different ways often and decisively. Everyone involved was grateful for this as his thoughts were always helpful and making the project stronger and loved it when he was present at the meetings via video. With his commitment, he led many young people in Asia and Africa to a tolerant, accepting and “rainbow” Christian faith. In 2011, because of friends/former student request to officiate at their wedding, Greg became an on-line ordained minister of American Marriage Ministries. Since that time he was honored to officiate at memorable weddings including for family in Geneva, IL, Louisville Kentucky and South Milwaukee, WI. Compassionate caregiving was a huge part of Greg’s later life and never was an occupation for him–it was just simply something you do for family. He and Raymond and later son, Jeffrey provided hands on caregiving in their own home on Layton Boulevard for numerous family members since 1992.
Did you ever hear Greg laugh…belly LAUGH with guffaws and all? He gave competition to local church bells surrounding his home. And he especially loved making others laugh likewise. No topic was off the table for Greg: religion, bring it. Race, explore. Best actors, this list changed with the years. His inquisitive mind and open heart made him the ultimate listener and guru. Broken heart, call Greg. Recipe not turning out, Greg to the rescue. Can’t remember the name of a Motown girl group, Greg’s your man (he was always so happy to have a chance to announce that he danced with MARTHA REEVES). Need an idea for a Halloween costume? Just look at the array of photos taken over the years….his Franklin Delano Roosevelt (nowadays non-PC impersonation) was one of his best but he certainly stole the show as Queen Elizabeth II for Raymond’s 60th Disco Birthday Party. He pulled out that costume several times and most famously on the back of a black BMW convertible in a Milwaukee Pride Parade.
Much has been said about Greg’s love and devotion for his family and friends. If you were fortunate enough to be part of that world you knew it and you will always know it feeling the depth of that love. His most favorite moments have been with his children and sweet Eleanor Rose.
A COVID considerate Memorial Visitation was held on November 12, 2021 in the atrium of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Milwaukee followed by Mass of Christian Burial, celebrated by Fr. Mike Hammer. The mass can be viewed Https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBDqJbeRPFw
Fr. Greg Greiten lead Gregory’s committal service in the Konz Family plot at Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery, Milwaukee on November 14, 2021.
Funeral arrangements by Heritage Funeral Homes, Milwaukee. https://www.heritagefuneral.com/obituary/gregory-v-konz-krzyminski/
Memorials to the School Sisters of St. Francis—Layton Blvd, Milwaukee Galano 12-Step Recovery Club, or Autistic Self Advocacy Network, are appreciated.
A COVID considerate Memorial Tribute will be hosted by Wisconsin Rapids Community Theater (WRCT) friends at 3pm,on Saturday, March 19, 2021 at WRCT, 220 3rd Ave S, Wisconsin Rapids. Please see https://www.wrctheatre.org for time and details. In lieu of flowers, memorials to WRCT are appreciated.
An outdoor Celebration of Life (by invitation and RSVP) will be held near his birthday in late June, 2022.
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of the intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the beauty in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that one life has breathed easier because you lived here. This is to have succeeded.”