her Life

Early life

Juanita was born on November 6, 1929 in St. Louis Missouri to Blanche and Lloyd Parsons Edwards. She was the oldest of three children: sisters Carolyn (Edwards Sykes) and Norma (Edwards Richter).  Growing up in Granite City Illinois, she had a perfect attendance record for all four years of high school, marking the beginnings of a lifetime of exceptional achievements and rewards in every activity she participated in.

Family life

Juanita met Richard Kozikowski in June of 1956 in Granite City Illinois while she was working at the Army Depot and he was stationed there.  They were married August 29, 1959, which began an intensely loving marriage that lasted over 60 years.  First son David arrived in 1960.  Daughter Lisa arrived in 1963.  Middle son Joel arrived in 1966, and youngest son Steven arrived in 1972.

Over the years, the family grew to add four additional children-in-laws and seven grandchildren.

Government career

Within a year of high school graduation, she took an entry level position in the Army Depot in Granite City. She advanced her career to the position of "Budget Analyst" before leaving the workforce to raise a family. Nearly 20 years later, after her youngest child Steven was old enough, she returned to government work at Ft. Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis, Indiana. She ended her government career as the Chief Financial Officer of the army hospital at Ft. Ben. During her second "tour of duty", she won the "Outstanding Government Employee" award and was presented a check for $1,000 by Indiana Senator Richard Lugar.


One of her first creative endeavors to be shared with husband Richard was puppeteering.  Starting with a simple puppet show for their children using puppets ordered from the back of a cereal box, her puppeteering career took on a life of its own with the creation of the "KozPets" - a collection of over 20 custom paper mache and cloth hand puppets hand crafted by Richard and Juanita.  As members of the St. Louis Puppet Guild, The KozPets entertained children with live shows done at schools, hospitals, and live television.

In the 1970's her puppeteering worked continued as a collaborator on the Indianapolis based Sunday morning children's television show "Time for Timothy."  Starring the puppet Timothy Churchmouse, Juanita was frequently a puppeteer during filming.  Later in the series, Juanita co-wrote the screen play for one complete episode, and was producer of another.  Husband Richard has the distinction of being the only live human to appear on any episode of "Time for Timothy"

Everyone's Mom and Grandma

It was obvious that Juanita loved children, as the time spent raising her own children and beyond was shared with the children all throughout the neighborhood and city.  She was very active in the Boy Scouts, being a Cub Scout Den Mother for all three boys, as well as one of the first female Pack Leaders in the city.  For the girls, she was a Troop Leader for her daughter's Brownie troop. She also taught the neighborhood girls how to sew by organizing informal sewing classes in her home. She shared her skills in cake decorating, both by making free birthday cakes for the neighborhood children, as well as teaching any child who wanted to learn.  She taught Bible School at church.

Halloween Night in the Greenbriar neighborhood of Indianapolis during the 1970's wouldn't have be the same without the Kozikowski's famous "Haunted Garage."  Each year for more than a decade, Juanita donned a witch's costume and handed out candy as the trick-or-treaters marveled over the elaborate and comically spooky display set up in the garage on Stockton Street.

From sharing her skills through teaching to simply reading to groups of children, everyone loved her.  Over the years, she had collected innumerable thank you cards from children from all over.

Cake Decorating

Of the numerous creative talents Juanita possessed, her ability to decorate cakes was perhaps her best known.  Starting with a simple cake she made for one of her children's first birthday (which child is a matter of much family controversy), she launched a side career as a professional cake decorator and teacher.  For 37 years, she taught her cake decorating skills as part of the Wilton Cake company's instructor program, holding classes for students in Indianapolis at Sears, JC Penny's, Joann's Fabric, and Party Tree.  During that tenure, she was named Wilton's "Instructor of the Year."  From eccentric personalized birthday cakes to elaborate wedding masterpieces, there was nothing she couldn't make.  Working solely through word of mouth, Juanita sold her crafts all over the city, making over 250 customized cakes and 65 wedding cakes.

Craft making - more than a hobby

Juanita was an incredibly creative person, and one of her favorite outlets for this was making things.  Her fabrication talents included sewing, crocheting, cake decorating, jewelry making, and turning seemingly trash into useful items.

She made stage quality costumes for her children: Evel Knievel, Sherlock Holmes, and Nintendo's Mario are the most impressive.

In her later years, she enjoyed a lead roll in an online community of quilt makers known as the "Quilting Sisters"  Dubbed the "Game Guru" for the numerous online games she organized, she was a guest of honor when the group met in person in Houston Texas.

Impressively, Juanita turned her love of crafts into a third career when she landed her "dream job" working at the Michaels craft store, where she worked either as an in store customer service representative, or a teacher for their various week-end craft making classes. She was so valued, she was selected to represent Michaels on Indianapolis television, making several appearances on Fox 59 demonstrating Michael's crafts.

During her time at Michaels, she won an award from the Corporate office for jewelry making, and was asked to come to Texas (yet again) to teach other employees her skills.  Little did they know this innovative jewelry creator was well into her 80s at the time.

Juanita continued to work and teach at Michaels up until the very end.  Her winter trip to Florida which was interrupted by a sudden turn in her health in the last few weeks of life was the only reason she stopped.  It was one of her true joys.  The thank-you cards she received from past child students will always be treasured by the family, as they are an clear indication of the type of individual she was.