MAKANDA - Sgt. Christopher “Chris” Anthony Ziolkowski, age 42, of Makanda, Illinois passed away November 2, 2017.
He was born September 17, 1975 in Harvey, Illinois to Ron and Ann Ziolkowski, currently residing in Peotone, Illinois. Chris looked up to his two older sisters: Debbie (John) Kijowski of Channahon, Illinois and Elisa (Chuck) Krcilek of Arizona. He loved his 4 nephews and niece as if they were his own children. Nathan Kijowski, Brandon and Christian Krcilek and Zack and Nicole Kijowski. He mentored each of them and held a very close relationship and bond that they will all hold dear for the rest of their lives.
He is survived by many aunts, uncles, cousins and endless friends. He is also leaving behind his love Beth Bivens. Together they cared for their two labs: Fi and Dooley. Chris left to serve his country in the United States Marine Corps at age 17 after graduating early from Peotone High School. He was a combat war veteran serving in Somalia. He was in the company that helped evacuate the NATO Forces. He loved his country and was proud to be a Marine.
Chris graduated from Southern Illinois University with a BS in Finance. He fell in love with the beauty of Southern Illinois and built a home in Makanda on Cedar Lake. Chris traveled the world and met some amazing people. He did more in his short 42 years than most people do in a lifetime. He was a certified scuba and skydiver, underwater welder, certified deep-sea and commercial diver and had his explosives license. During the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, he was utilizing his underwater skills and sustained a spinal cord injury resulting in artificial discs in his back. Though he would struggle with pain the rest of his life, he never let it slow him down. He found peace on his boat on Cedar Lake fishing and enjoying God’s beauty. Chris enjoyed camping, bow hunting, and entertaining. He was a man of faith and believed God would guide him through anything. Chris gave more to this world than he took. He would stop at nothing to help a friend, family member or even stranger. He was truly the most generous person any of us knew. He provided care, food, money and love to those in need.
Family and friends are welcome to say farewell to Chris and visit with his family on Thursday November 16, 2017 from 3-8PM. A celebration of his life will begin at 7PM sharing favorite memories and stories at Kurtz Memorial Chapel 65 Old Frankfort Way, Frankfort, Illinois 60423.
Funeral Mass will be celebrated Friday November 17th at noon with a visitation from 10:30 AM until time of mass. St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church 511 N Conrad Street, Peotone, IL 60468. A military service will be held at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery at a later date.
Donations may be made to FreedomFighterOutdoors.org or charity of choice.
A special thank you to Meredith Funeral Home in Carbondale, Illinois for their care, love and professionalism.