“People seemed to sense his gentleness,” Noah’s father Thomas Kokoszka said.An active volunteer, Noah spent a summer in Honduras volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, where he fascinated the children with his huge size and spent time with them learning how to chase and capture chickens.
Finding a chicken tied by its feet to a tree limb while on his trip, Noah reported back to his father. “And he explained that he had helped it back up on the branch,” Thomas Kokoszka said. “They were probably waiting for him to leave so that they could eat it for dinner.”
Beyond the Habitat for Humanity build, Noah coached basketball, volunteered at places varying from soup kitchens to physical therapists offices, and did service work through Saint Patrick’s, his church at his home in Brighton, MI. As a student, Noah excelled though all of high school and had no disciplinary record.
He was also an accomplished athlete, participating in track and field, basketball and football, continuing to play football at K.
Noah was a Biology major and had planned to take the MCAT after graduation in order to go into health care medicine.
Noah studied abroad for a quarter in Costa Rica during his sophomore year, and was therefore able to play football for four seasons during his time at K.
Football Coach Jaime Zorbo called Noah one of the hardest workers he has ever seen. “When he did vocalize something it had a dramatic effect,” Zorbo said. “He was one of the best I ever saw do that.” His quiet leadership earned him the respect of his teammates and the co-captain position on the team.
Junior Mike McCann attended Catholic Central High School with Noah. He played basketball and football with him there, and continued to do so on the K College field. “The quarterback and the running back get their names in the newspaper. The offensive linesmen do the dirty work,” McCann said. “He did the hard work that no one ever saw, and that was kind of what he like off the field.”
Noah showed of the same traits in his role as an RA. “Everything about him was kind of awkward, but that was what made you like him,” friend, fellow Biology major and junior RA Shatia Thompson said. “…he was like the total opposite of what you would think he was like by looking at him. Even though he was really quiet, I feel like he really enjoyed people’s company.”
Noah was always himself, no matter his student profession. “I’d be surprised if there’s anyone who can really separate Noah,” his roommate, senior Thomas Strong said. “He didn’t put up a front in any situation.”
Noah’s friends and family remember him as the listener, and when his quiet actions moved outside of that box, they remember his smirk. “It’s not really a full smile,” Strong said. “He just does it real quick. You see his smirk and you just have to smile back.”
According to his father, that smile followed Noah home when he visited. “He had a sharp sense of humor—usually followed by a sly smile,” he said.
Noah is survived by his brothers Brendan, 20, and Gabriel, 15, as well as his sister Erin, 15, and parents Thomas and Margaret Kokoszka. Noah was a great big brother, doubling as a coach, said his father. “He had a low point that took his life,” Thomas said, “but that was just such a small part of his existence.”
Noah’s funeral celebration was held at his church in Brighton, MI last Monday. Two buses full of students attended, including the whole football team. The Kalamazoo College gospel choir also attended, singing an Irish song and blessing. “It was so heartwarming to hear that,” said Noah’s mother, Margaret Kokoszka.