ForeverMissed
This memorial website was created in memory of our loved one, Alexa Kownacki. Alexa didn't have acquaintances - you were either her friend or she simply hadn't met you yet. There was nothing in-between. She went out of her way to make people feel welcome, included, and special, finding connections and common interests with everyone she met. Alexa leaves a gaping hole in our hearts, lives, and communities. She will be remembered forever. This website is for all who want to pay tribute to our strong, beautiful, intelligent, driven, kind-hearted Alexa.


Donation pages have been created in Alexa’s name to support charitable causes near and dear to her heart. They are in support of the Shifa Community Clinic, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the National Marine Mammal Foundation, and the Ocean Conservancy. The pages created in her honor can all be accessed here.


Posted by Dawn Barlow on February 23, 2021
Dear all, in case you have not yet received an invitation, a Celebration of Alexa's Life will be held on Friday, August 27th, 2021 at 6pm. The event will take place both virtually and in person at the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla, California. All are welcome. Please pass the invitation along to anyone who knew Alexa and would like to be part of celebrating her and her amazing life. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP here​: https://forms.gle/B7rD3ccA3iSBmx8d8  
Posted by Diana Kimbrough on December 30, 2020
I only met Alexa briefly at UC Davis in the WFCB program. She was such a warm and friendly person, the kind of person that makes such an impression you never forget her. Watching her adventures on facebook of all the places she has gone and the amazing wildlife she had the opportunity to work with, it's clear she lived the kind of life most people could only dream of. She was a truly memorable person and it was an honor to have the opportunity to have known her. 
Posted by Bryanna Andrews on December 11, 2020
Just a quick post to say a Happy Hanukkah to everyone here, on behalf of @lexa. Her time in Israel and her Birthright community meant the world to her, and brought her closer to her Ashkenazi heritage. I have no doubt that she is shining brightly wherever she is now.
Posted by Jane Dolliver on December 6, 2020
The last message I received from Alexa was, "Remember this?!! Best brunch ever!! Let's repeat soon!" I'm missing the simple pleasure of sharing conversation over way too much food, served on a random assortment of grad school dishes and cutlery, in a too-small living room where dogs and people rally for spots on the couch. Yes, let's repeat these moments in our thoughts and dreams.
Posted by Vivien Schapera on December 6, 2020
We met Alexa on safari in South Africa in 2012. What a delight. Her enthusiasm for life and adventure will always light up my heart -- some encounters are eternal, and this was one of them. I am very sad that you departed our planet so soon. Yet I know that those who burn so bright are the shooting stars who come to do much in a short time. It's not how long we live that counts, it's what we do with our time here that matters. Alexa -- you really, really matter. Everyone you have affected will carry your inspiration forward for eternity. What a legacy!
Posted by Ben Medeiros on December 4, 2020
I worked with Alexa briefly at Oregon State University when she was an Academic Learning Assistant. She was such a great student leader, but more than that... a great person. She had a joy and enthusiasm that she brought to everything. She was literally someone folks would describe as lighting up a room. She was also focused, and incredibly smart, and passionate about making a difference. Our time together was short, but she will be missed. <3
Posted by Lynn Evans - NOAA Affilia... on December 4, 2020
               As we fall and grow tall in our steps,
                  we need your guiding touch
                    to help us create a path     
                   we shall never travel again.

- To those touched by Alexa and her light,
Posted by Hector Lopez on December 3, 2020
Dear Alexa, I've been trying to find the right words to write, but every time I try I just realize it won't do you justice. We are very saddened by your passing and just cannot believe you are gone at such an early age. You were a great neighbor and an amazing person. You always greeted us with a big smile and though you were a lot older than our kids, you played with them on numerous occasions out on the street. They were always happy that you would play with them and we appreciated it very much. They would get so excited when you would baby sit them that we would try to have you baby sit them as much as possible. I remember one specific time when a neighbor asked me who had baby sat my kids the previous weekend. When I asked why she was asking, she said that there was a lot of laughter, yelling, thumping, and running and just a joying raucous coming from the house. She added, "that's the kind of baby sitter I would like to have". We are blessed that you have been part of our lives. You grew up to be a wonderful, beautiful young woman. You will forever be in our hearts. Until we meet again.
Posted by Mark Benito on December 1, 2020
It is a sobering thought to consider the passing of someone so young and full of life. It doesn’t seem possible.  I had the pleasure of meeting Alexa through her parents. She was a vivacious young lady fourteen yours ago and I watched her blossom into a gracious and astute woman with a keen and perceptive mind. The world has lost a bright light. I pray the gift of her positive impact on the world, and particularly on those closest to her, will bring the contagious joy and peaceful comfort she would wish.
Posted by Sanette South on December 1, 2020
Alexa I can’t believe you’re gone. You were the best daughter in the world and I know how much you loved your Mom. I was blessed to have known you. I know you are walking on streets of gold in heaven. I love you Alexa. I’ll see you when I get there.
Love Sanette
Posted by Emily Seubert on November 26, 2020
Alexa, I am so so saddened to hear of your passing. We met at Davis & while we haven’t spoken in years I always enjoyed the positivity & energy that radiated from your posts & adventures. You were one of those people that I connected with immediately whenever we spoke or ran into each other. You know those people who just vibe with your soul? That was you, 100%.

I wish I had spent more time giggling & frolicking with you. My heart hurts for your loved ones, and for the world, because you made it brighter and you were destined to change the world in incredible ways. And in some ways you did just that, in such a short time, just by being you.

I don’t know your family, but I’m sending them love because they can never have enough, especially without you here. May your memory be a blessing, & I wish you the safest & swiftest of sails my friend
Posted by Kim Rector on November 25, 2020
What a shining light Alexa was!! Although I only saw her a few times over her much too short life, I felt like I knew her as I experienced her life through my best friend, her Aunt Janet. Why does the lord take someone as young, vibrant, and full of life as Alexa was? It is so very hard to imagine any possible reason. God must have needed her to bring light and joy to others...but that still does not make her loss feel any less painful. I know that Alexa was a treasure to all who knew her and that her beautiful smile lit up every room that she ever entered. Blessed are all of us who have been touched by Lovely Alexa's short life. My heart aches for all of Alexa's friends and family and for that gaping hole that now exists in our world without her shining presence in it. May you rest in peace, sweet Alexa.
Posted by Linda Adams on November 24, 2020
I never had the pleasure of meeting Alexa, I met Alexas mom Susan when we worked together. Reading all the tributes about Alexa are so beautiful. I only wish I could have met her. Rest in Peace Alexa. You were taken to soon. God be with your Mom and Dad, Cheddar and Cooper
Posted by Brittany Hanser on November 24, 2020
I knew Alexa at the La Jolla SWFSC lab. As many have said before, the first thing you notice was her smile and it is also the last thing you see when your interaction ends.
May you always have calm winds and fair seas.
Posted by Morgan Lynn on November 24, 2020
I knew Alexa through her time working at NOAA's LaJolla lab. You also get to know someone well when spending time doing field work with them, living and working together for several weeks. Her enthusiasm for the work and for life in general made her truly memorable and pleasure to be around. Like many others, I will miss her.
Posted by Paul Fiedler - NOAA Feder... on November 24, 2020
I knew Alexa at the La Jolla NMFS lab. Spent a week with her and Susan Chivers counting gray whales at Granite Canyon. She was a wonderful, joyful friend. So sad.
Posted by Kerri Peterson-Davis on November 23, 2020
I had the great honor of sharing this poem at Alexa's step-grandfather's funeral and it seems so appropriate for Alexa as well. 

“High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds,—and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of—wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air. . . .

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark nor ever eagle flew—
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.”

Royal Canadian Air Force Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee Jr.
Posted by Acacia Pepper on November 23, 2020
I met Alexa for the first time at a GEMM lab meeting, and you could immediately tell that she was warm, playful, passionate and dedicated. I asked her to meet me for coffee so I could pick her brain about graduate school, the work force, and life studying marine mammals. She must have stayed with me for two hours, filling up my notebook with advice and answers to my questions. She was unfailingly compassionate, and the few times I saw her afterwards she always made me feel at home. Alexa is someone I look up to, and I'm terribly sad that we will not meet again in the future. Thank you Alexa, you changed so many people's lives for the better. 28 was much too young to lose such a beautiful life.
Posted by Katie Vasquez on November 23, 2020
Dear Alexa, I’ve been trying to find the words to write this but every time I stop at you were 28. You were so young planning on a full and successful and meaningful career. You were always positive and driven and full of light. I will miss you; say hi to grandma for us.

Leave a Tribute

 
Recent Tributes
Posted by Dawn Barlow on February 23, 2021
Dear all, in case you have not yet received an invitation, a Celebration of Alexa's Life will be held on Friday, August 27th, 2021 at 6pm. The event will take place both virtually and in person at the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla, California. All are welcome. Please pass the invitation along to anyone who knew Alexa and would like to be part of celebrating her and her amazing life. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP here​: https://forms.gle/B7rD3ccA3iSBmx8d8  
Posted by Diana Kimbrough on December 30, 2020
I only met Alexa briefly at UC Davis in the WFCB program. She was such a warm and friendly person, the kind of person that makes such an impression you never forget her. Watching her adventures on facebook of all the places she has gone and the amazing wildlife she had the opportunity to work with, it's clear she lived the kind of life most people could only dream of. She was a truly memorable person and it was an honor to have the opportunity to have known her. 
Posted by Bryanna Andrews on December 11, 2020
Just a quick post to say a Happy Hanukkah to everyone here, on behalf of @lexa. Her time in Israel and her Birthright community meant the world to her, and brought her closer to her Ashkenazi heritage. I have no doubt that she is shining brightly wherever she is now.
her Life
Alexa was a passionate person who loved to travel, had a deep interest in marine conservation and education, and valued her friends and family above all else. Her life was far too short and she was taken from us too soon. However, she lived everyday to the fullest and experienced so much adventure, joy, and love in her 28 years of life.

A full obituary and life remembrance will follow on this page soon. In the meantime, please add your tributes, stories, photos, and videos in remembrance and celebration of Alexa to the rest of the website.

A Celebration of Alexa's Life will be held on Friday, August 27th, 2021 at 6pm, both virtually and in person at the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla, California. The event is open to all. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP here

Like a Sailboat

I am standing at the edge of the shore
A ship sails in the morning breeze
And heads for the open ocean
She is beauty, She is life.
I watch her 'til she disappears over the horizon.

Someone near me says << She is Gone >>
Gone where? Gone from my sight, that's all.
Her mast is still as tall,
Her hull still holds the strength to carry
Her cargo of humanity
Her diminishment and loss from sight is in me, not in her.

And in the moment when someone near me say:
<< She is Gone >>
There are others who, seeing a sail on the horizon,
coming towards them,
exclaim with joy: << There She Is >>

This is death.
There are no dead,
Only people on both shores.

-Author unknown
Recent stories

Thank you!

Shared by Pushpa Kanapareddy on January 19, 2021
Hi
Thank you for nominating me the most prestigious award and I won the award. I wanted to thank you and googled your name. Shocked and speechless,  even after you passed away you are still helping and showing to be kind. You will always be remembered in my life. Thank you.
Shared by Deborah Zahm on December 30, 2020
I miss Alexa. She gave me this for my birthday this year (April 2020) and wore an identical one. While I may be known to have a big personality like Lex, when it comes to something personal like this, I tend to be very quiet and introspective. I haven’t been able to bring myself to read most of the posts on Forever Missed or Facebook. I have read some, and what I have read is spot on. Though I tend to shy away from public posting, I hope that some of my words will dovetail well with other's sentiments about her.

The words that I can use to describe Alexa are endless. If a book were to be written about her it would be an epic novel and if a play were to be scripted it would be a musical filled with singing and dancing. For now, I will begin with one word, extraordinary. Noting that the key here is EXTRA, and she was, in every imaginable way. As many have expressed, she was endlessly positive, abundantly joyful, generally full of laughter, and ready for an adventure at the drop of a hat. If there was the slightest mention of dancing, there was no waiting for a dance floor (or even music sometimes) she was shaking what her momma gave her THAT VERY SECOND, and I loved her for that. She was known as a scientist, a student, a mentor, a conservationist, an activist, a leader, a confidant, a buddy, a friend, a fan. She was your fan, my fan, a fan of animals of all kinds, of dark chocolate (we all know the stash that always existed in her freezer or in some random bag she was carrying), of wearing workout wear 24/7, of dancing (any style), of music (you could talk to her about any band or any artist from the 1960s through today…just leave out the 80’s, apparently that was a decade that did not exist). 

She was tenacious, resourceful, and a force to be reckoned with. She was a collector. You name it, she had it. If you ever tried to pick up that lead brick she called a backpack, been to any of her living spaces, or been involved in any of her moves you know what I am talking about .  She collected people too. Wonderful, kind, insightful, big-hearted people. She collected them like they were going out of style. She saw the best in people and made an effort to bring joy into other’s lives as often as she was able.

Alexa was resilient and fiercely independent. If something managed to knock her down, she found a way to get back up with added vigor. She had extremely high standards and expectations of herself and was a high achiever. She was someone you could always count on to help.

All of these things made her beautiful.

Alexa was also human. She did have moments that were not perfect. Watching her learn to accept and work with the things that were not perfect also made her beautiful. When I first met her, she was STEADFAST on not asking for help, even when she clearly needed it. And then she changed. She learned to reach out and ask for what she needed. What was even more exciting was that she was proud of herself. She had always been so proud of others. I loved receiving those phone calls when she voiced how proud she was about doing good things for herself.

Alexa was a sailor at heart. She lived to be on the water. In the water. Near the water. Talking about being on the water or the next time she would be sailing. Or just on a boat.

She was an animal lover. All animals. The girl could warm up to a rattlesnake. And while dolphins may have been special to her… we all know secretly deep down… her favorite animal *might* have been the loyal dog. If her two recent adoptions were not evidence, look back at her love for Edna (her mom’s unbelievably adorable dog) and even MY dog got a following on HER Snapchat (if anyone remembers Sexy pug).

Alexa was a comedian, and most of the time it was on purpose. One of my favorite Alexa comedy moments was when she was asked by a doctor (after surgery on her wrist) to wiggle her middle finger. To encourage movement, he kept tapping on her finger with his pen and her finger was not moving. Mind you, she was still groggy from anesthesia. Come on Alexa move this finger (tap, tap, tap). Nothing. So, we are all encouraging her, the doctor, the nurses, me, and guess what… up shoots her finger… the middle one, ON THE OTHER HAND. Classic! We all agreed, including Alexa, her funny bone was still intact. In addition to great comedic timing, she used incredible terminology like “hair wookies” to describe the gobs of hair we lose when showering. It was as if she was Mary Poppins inventing her very own Supercalifragilisticexbialadocious vocabulary. It was the best!

I could fill endless pages on who Alexa was. Bottom line? She was EXTRA. And I will miss every EXTRA thing about her. There is nobody that will ever fill the hole in my heart that has been left by her absence.


The first day we met, or one of the wildest rollercoaster rides ever

Shared by Lisa Hildebrand on November 24, 2020
Alexa, there are so many memories, experiences, and moments we had together that I will never forget, least of all the very first day I met you (fasten your seatbelts everyone, this story is a wildly unbelievable, yet very true, roller coaster ride). Summers were always extremely busy for you in San Diego. Yet, despite that, you didn’t hesitate when Leigh asked you to come up to Oregon in July 2018 to teach me, the newest GEMM Lab member, all there was to know about the Port Orford gray whale project. You had never met me before and you had only participated in the Port Orford project for a week the previous summer, but none of that stopped you. You flew to Portland from San Diego and made your way to Newport. We loaded up the MMI truck with all the gear and headed south towards Port Orford. So far, so good. Great, even! You pulled off the highway any chance we got so I could marvel at the beauty of the Oregon coast. But that all changed when we got to Coos Bay where we planned to stock up on groceries. You, ever so organized & thoughtful, had already compiled a grocery list but as we were going up and down the aisle, adding things to our cart, you suddenly realized that your phone was missing. We retraced our steps. Nothing. As always, you were quick on your feet, and connected to the Safeway wifi on your tablet to use the ‘Find My iPhone’ app to help solve the mystery. Lo-and-behold, your phone was no longer in the store…We drove to the location and arrived at what we always describe as a “creepy-looking motel” (although under any other circumstance the motel would have probably looked totally normal). We surveyed our surroundings and made notes (I still have that note on my phone) about all the people and vehicles we saw. One person in particular drew our attention because out of the back of his car he pulled out several…Safeway grocery bags!!! Feeling giddy about our amateur-sleuthing but also nervous because we were sitting in a pretty conspicuous white government truck in a motel parking lot, you decided that it was probably time to call the police. Two officers arrived and it soon was revealed that the man we had seen with Safeway bags had indeed just been at Safeway with his daughter. Apparently, his daughter had a habit of stealing and he told the officers he was confident that his daughter had stolen the phone and that he would call them as soon as he found it. There wasn’t much for us to do so you decided it would be best to drive to Port Orford, get settled in and once we heard from the police, we could drive back to Coos Bay. We did eventually hear from the police and drove all the way back to Coos Bay in the dark, only to find that your phone was completely destroyed. The night involved more adventures (including sleeping on the floor but that’s a whole other story), yet, the next day (the 4th of July), you let none of these events stop us from making s’mores (my first ones ever!) and watching the dinghy race & fireworks from the field station. You blazed on, with your unparalleled optimism and determination, to ensure that I not only learned everything that I needed to know to be able to run the project, but that we also had a great time while learning. Alexa, I will cherish the time we had together forever and I miss you so incredibly much.