It is with sadness and great difficulty and a simultaneous celebration of life, we regret to inform you that Betty Kozai passed away on Monday, January 18th, at the age of 92. To anyone with even a basic understanding on the history of Granite Curling Club, Betty was an absolutely legendary and enduring presence in the club. One of the original founding members of the club dating back to the creation of the existing club in 1961, Betty is the matriarch of a family of three generations of Granite curlers that are responsible for numerous U.S. Championships. Betty was a fixture in the club, be it helping out in the kitchen during bonspiels and other events, or continuing to curl into her 90's, making her one of the oldest curlers in the United States, if not the oldest. We all will remember Betty fondly by sharing the many stories that made Betty a life force and an inspiration to all of us at the club.
The following Youtube Video captures the spirit of Betty and will likely leave a smile on your face and a tear in your eye. Rest in Peace, Betty, you will live in our hearts and memories forever.
Due to COVID, there will be no public memorial at this time, but the club plans to have an event in her honor once the social distancing restrictions are lifted, and we will inform everyone in the future of a planned event.
From her granddaughter Emily Good on January 18th, 2020,
Hey curling friends, we lost a legend early this morning. My dear grandmother, Betty Kozai, passed away peacefully in her sleep at the age of 92, while in the hospital after a hard-fought battle to recover from a broken leg.
My mother, Sharon Vukich, was able to be by her side at the hospital in her final days and as she passed, and I hope it warms your heart (as it did mine) to know that in those days Betty talked *loads* about curling and her “curling family”.
Betty loved all aspects of curling. As a Granite founder, lifetime member, and Cruickshank award recipient, she reveled in the social aspects of our sport, and nurtured our club for decades— from its “leaner days” up into modern times. She took it upon herself to share her love of the game, often curling with brand new curlers for league nights. Longtime curlers remember her junior fundraiser spaghetti dinners, “famous” chicken noodle soup, egg salads for bonspiels, and “Betty Dogs.”
An avid competitor, Betty most recently earned the WA Senior State title in 2019. She also earned multiple league and bonspiel titles, represented Washington in multiple National Championships and the United States at the 1980 Women’s Worlds in Scotland and 2010 Senior Women’s World Championships in Russia (at the age of 81, no less!!) Her love of the game kept her skipping in leagues and bonspiels well into her 80’s, and playing in Wednesday Women’s into her 90’s.
Betty’s prowess for drawing the four foot cinched her enough wins against tough competition to coin the term “Kozaied” at the club, an honor that delighted her. (She loved to surprise the opposition when they expected an “easy win” from a “little old lady” and were instead handed a loss!) She also participated in a USWCA Canadian Friendship Tour, served on both the GCC board and the Lakewood CC board, as well as the WSCA board.
I’d like to think that Nana Betty is now playing in her first “big bonspiel in the sky”, drinking a red beer in the warm room, and having many laughs with loved ones and friends. Those that were lucky enough to know her will remember Betty for her generosity, humor, and spirit.
This week, if you’re so inclined, please crack open a Miller High Life for Betty (add tomato juice for Nan’s favorite red beer!) Nothing would make Betty smile more than knowing she’s left a legacy of joy and friendship in your life. As Nana Betty would say, “Pick the draw over the hit, take your vitamin C, and choose red rocks!” If you have any fun memories of Betty, feel free to share them with all of us. Thank you, and good curling.