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OUR HOMETOWN: No mountain too high, ice-rink too slick for Kozuki brothers

Ed and Roy Kozuki, both in their 80s, grew up in the Cariboo and love being a part of winter sports

If you’ve spent any time on the slopes or at the hockey rink, you’re bound to have run into one of the Kozuki brothers, both of whom are now in their 80s.

Ed, 86, and Roy, 80, live down the street from one another — Ed on Kozuki Road with his wife, Midori, and daughter, Janice, and Roy and his wife, Eleanor, on North Lakeside Drive.

The Kozuki family has been in Williams Lake since the early 40s, where they relocated after Pearl Harbour attacked, reluctantly leaving their Vancouver home to avoid internment camps. Fred and Lily brought their three children, Ed, Dyck and Freda, to the Cariboo, later having Roy, Frank and Betty. Ed and Roy are the surviving siblings, their brother Dick having only passed away in early December 2023 at the age of 84. Freda White passed away in 2018, Frank many years ago in a car accident in Williams Lake, and Betty when she was only two years old.

The two brothers keep busy within the community and shared many memories with the Tribune, from their walks from their home (now Lakeside Motel) to Parkside School and later, Marie Sharpe, to their chores chopping wood and tending to the family garden to rare but fun occasions visiting the Famous Cafe to listen to music on the jukebox with their friends. While the family faced some initial racism upon arriving in Williams Lake, Ed and Roy said it became less so as they got older. Ed went on to say that this interview should celebrate the people who supported the family.

“That says a lot about the people in the Cariboo.”

The Kozuki children played hockey growing up, Ed with the Pontiacs and Roy with the Kiwanis U18 Reps. After high school, Ed got into building trades, eventually becoming a partner and the president for Burgess Plumbing, Heating, and Electrical, where he worked until retiring in his 70s.

“It was a fun place to work,” said Ed. “It’s hard to leave a fun place.”

Roy, who worked as an auto-mechanic until he was 65, agreed, stating that as long as he could be useful, why not work?

The two still keep busy today, with Ed on the ski hill and Roy at the hockey rink.

Ed got into skiing and snowboarding after watching his children in the sport, eventually teaching people how to snowboard. He was excited to get his brand-new custom-made snowboard this year, although he hasn’t been able to use it yet with this year’s poor snowpack.

For Roy, he continued into the hockey world, coaching and eventually reffing, which he does at least four days a week. He has cut back on reffing rep hockey to avoid major collisions and sticks to the younger kids in the house league. Roy laughed when explaining the benefits of coaching in his 80s, one being that if a player or those watching a game get mad at one of his calls, well, he can’t hear them that well anyway (although, being older, people tend to get mad at him less now anyway).

Physical activity has kept the brothers fit physically but also cognitively. As Roy likes to say, “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.”

Though the two families have their own separate lives, they still get together for dinners, enjoying Japanese meals consisting of rice, tempura, sushi and stir fry.

Ed still lives in his family’s home, the one his parents built on Kozuki Road, which he later purchased from them. They’ve made a few renovations — opening up the kitchen — but the bones of the house remain strong, with the large windows in the back of the home providing a scenic view of the lake. Downstairs is the “hall of fame,” where years of history are framed to the wall featuring the Kozuki’s ever-growing family.

Ed and Midori, whom he met when she was recruited to the Cariboo for a teaching position, have three children together (Janice, Kimberley and David) and six grandchildren. The couple married in 1962.

As for Roy, he met Eleanor, a part of the well-established Bambrick family, after “she liked my ‘66 Mustang Fastback.” A boisterous laugh followed, and he shared that he bought Eleanor a ‘67 Mustang 10 years ago. The couple married in 1968 and have four children (Vincent, Tawnya, Sachia and Troy) and 12 grandkids.

It’s fascinating to watch the two brothers interact: Roy, quiet but playful; Ed, chattier but curious, a family of so much history that has spread out like tree branches, each with their own lives, stories and memories, but a shared foundation keeping the two of them connected together.

Kim Kimberlin, Local Journalism Initiative

About the Author: Kim Kimberlin, Local Journalism Initiative

I joined Black Press Media in 2022, and have a passion for covering topics on women’s rights, 2SLGBTQIA+ and racial issues, mental health and the arts.
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