Leo Kowalski was born June 30, 1925, on a farm in Pe Ell, Wash., the youngest of five children of Leonard and Agnes Kowalski and the grandson of Polish immigrant homesteaders.
After graduation from Pe Ell High School, he entered the United States Army during World War II. Serving overseas in the Pacific Luzon Campaign, he was awarded a Bronze Star for meritorious service. At the end of the war, he remained in Tokyo as a civilian employee with the military occupation government. Later, he attended Santa Clara University and Mexico City College, ultimately earning his degree in international relations from UC Berkeley in 1950. He then commenced a 31 year career in international shipping, rising from office clerk to major shareholder and CEO of nationwide Merit Steamship Agency, headquartered at Los Angeles, overseeing the business of Japan Line of Tokyo in Canada and Mexico, as well as in the United States.
Upon his retirement in 1987, Leo had time to enjoy some of his many interests, including volunteering, writing, genealogy, gardening, and becoming a state certified organic grower of exotic fruits in Fallbrook, Calif. Returning to San Pedro, Calif., in 1996, he continued volunteer work, wrote and published memoirs, travel essays, and two oral histories, Pe Ell’s Polish Heritage and Pe Ell’s Polish Pioneers. A life long master gardener, Leo grew food, flowers and trees with attention to nature and aesthetic.
Above all, Leo’s main interest was the love and welfare of his family. The patient love and quiet beauty he cultivated and shared with those who knew him shall remain in our hearts forever.
Leo is survived by his wife of 63 years, Eva (Larson) and by his daughters, Andrea Kowalski, and Julie Biggs (Steven); grandson, Karl Biggs; and many generations of extended family in Washington state and beyond.
A funeral mass was held at Holy Trinity Church in San Pedro, Calif., at 9:15 a.m., March 12, 2021, preceded by viewing and rosary at 8:45 a.m., at the church. Memorial donations may be made to San Pedro Meals on Wheels, 731 S. Averill Ave., San Pedro, CA 90732.