Brian Andrew Kokesh, 49, Palisade, left this life for the next in the early morning hours of Oct. 16, 2019, surrounded by family.
He was born Oct. 18, 1969 to Guy Howard Kokesh, and Mary Frances Cullen Kokesh in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Brian went to school in Canada until the eighth grade then moved to Garrison and attended Aitkin High School from which he graduated in 1988. He married his high school sweetheart, Kaija Reinhardt Dec. 1, 1990 in Aitkin.
Brian was a member of the Minnesota National Guard following high school and attended St. Cloud State University for aviation. He joined the Army full time upon his junior year to attend flight school in Alabama. A son, Broc Stephen Kokesh was born in 1993 and Brian and Kaija made their home in Palisade. Brian served in Korea for one year and then Alaska for another year before daughter, Kassie Carol Kokesh was born in 1995. He returned home and worked for Reinhardt Auction Service, Brainerd Helicopter, and finally North Memorial Air Care II, out of Brainerd. Wyatt Guy Kokesh, was born in 1998, and Kate Frances Kokesh was born in 2000, completing their family. Brian returned to the Minnesota National Guard and was sent to Iraq for 18 months in 2007-2008. He retired as a Chief Warrant Officer II from the United States Army. He flew EMS for North Memorial for 14 years before losing all four limbs to frostbite following a snowmobile accident. He endured a long recovery and beating all odds, was walking with the use of prosthetics and living independently. He adored children’s reactions to his disability and talked with many young groups and classrooms about what he had experienced and demonstrated his prosthetics. He played volleyball and wake boarded following his accident, drove a car well, and continued to tinker and fix everything. His most recent project was adapting a throttle on his snowmobile so he could ride it this winter. During his young adult life Brian served a short time on the Palisade Volunteer Fire Department, coached youth hockey, coached JO volleyball, attended every single game/match/meet/concert of his four children. He enjoyed boating, skiing, snowmobiling, playing volleyball, golfing, camping, cooking/grilling, his golden retrievers, cats and (believe it or not!) goats, hunting, playing poker at the shack, tearing apart and fixing things at home, watching football and hockey, flying for North Memorial Air Care, and being with friends and family.
Brian was an excellent listener and so very brilliant. He had the uncanny ability to network and troubleshoot computer issues. The greatest achievement of Brian’s was his four smart, talented, kind, well-adjusted children. He was above all proud of them and loved them so much. He was so completely selfless and wanted only their happiness. He was their biggest cheerleader and did not own any article of clothing that didn’t say, Aitkin, Morris, Stout, SJU or CSB on it. His common question before leaving the house dressed was, “Do I look too rah rah?” Our answer was always, “No. You look great.” He never left his children without saying, “I love you” and he will, eternally.
Brian was preceded in death by his father, Guy Howard Kokesh and brother, David Kokesh; and many fondly remembered aunts, uncles and cousins.
Brian is survived by: Kaija Reinhardt Kokesh; children: Broc Kokesh; Kassie (Kokesh) and Benjamin Peterson, Wyatt Kokesh and Kate Kokesh; mother: Mary Frances Kokesh; sister, Julia (Kokesh) and Dan Hammer; in-laws: Steve and Carol Reinhardt, Dan and Shanen Weimer; nieces: Maddy Hammer, Meg and Jade Weimer and nephews: Kirk and Kegan Workman, Dillon Hammer, Colton Weimer; many, many aunts, uncles, and cousins and other special relatives and friends.
The funeral service will be 11 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019 at St. James Catholic Church, Aitkin. Father David Forsman will officiate. Visitation will be 5-8 p.m., Friday, Oct. 25 at Sorensen-Root-Thompson Funeral Home, Aitkin and will continue one hour prior to the service at the church. Military honors will take place at the church and then everyone is invited for a remembrance and celebration of Brian’s life at the 40 Club, Aitkin.