Remembering Ed Kazlauskas

Ed Kazlauskas and I first crossed paths in the early 1970s, when he was a student in my driver’s education class at Union High School.

He was just getting his first taste of becoming a “car guy” and obviously was a really successful student in my class.

Shortly thereafter, I moved to Arizona and we lost track of each other for about 30 years. We then moved back to Dowagiac in 1999 and it didn’t take long before I re-connected with Ed and Jim D’s.

According to my wife, I tend to own too many vehicles and, so, I was in and out of Jim D’s on a pretty regular basis. It got to a point where Ed labeled the keys to my cars with colors and numbers because we couldn’t keep track any other way.

After the renovation of Jim D’s, I also stopped by occasionally to use the bathroom because I jokingly told him that he had the nicest restroom in Dowagiac. It was also a good time to just stop by there, stand at one of the hi-tops, and talk and get caught up on things.

Dave Mahar was quoted in the Daily News saying, “Ed was someone I had a real connection with. He was always fun to talk to. We had that ease of friendship, where I would say what was on my mind and he would say what was on his.”

I use that quote because I can’t say it any better.

Since the cancer attacked him, I tried to stay close and be concerned about his battle without being obnoxious and asking too many questions.

I last saw him on Dec. 7 of 2015. I left Dowagiac in mid-afternoon and flew to Arizona for the holidays. I stopped at Jim D’s that morning and we chatted for a while — he gave me a 2016 Jim D’s calendar, we wished each other “Merry Christmas,” we shook hands and I left.

That would become the last time I saw Ed and that’s OK with me because he was having a good day. Over time we had become pals and that was good.

The city of Dowagiac has lost a strong community supporter, a good businessman, a good family man, and, to many, a good friend. We are better off for his having been with us for 60 years.

Take care, Eddie!

 

Larry Schmidt

Dowagiac

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