Roger Koskela
Roger Koskela
Roger Koskela
Roger Koskela
Roger Koskela
Roger Koskela

Obituary of Roger Arthur Koskela

After several months of declining health, Roger Arthur Koskela took his last breath at home on February 24, 2024, with his wife and sons by his side. His family is grateful he is no longer in pain, and trust in the hope that he and we share in Christ.


Born in Chicago, Illinois, on July 9, 1938, he was the only child of Hugo and Helen Koskela. Their Finnish heritage was something Roger was proud of his whole life long. While he often claimed the Finnish word sisu (meaning stoic determination, grit, and resilience), his family saw in him a characteristic optimism that helped him see and name the best in people, particularly those in his family.


His lifelong love of baseball began as he grew up playing on sandlots in Chicago—and as a fan of both the Cubs and the New York Giants. Fishing for pike and muskies on Lake Michigan as a child grew into countless hours fishing throughout his life, especially for trout, steelhead, and salmon.


During his growing up years, the Koskelas shared a two-unit house with the Narvas. Uncle Ed, Aunt Lina, and cousins, Jim and Joel, were just like immediate family. When doctors recommended a warmer climate for Roger’s mom, Helen, the Koskelas and Narvas packed up their lives in Chicago and started driving, final destination unknown. They looked for jobs all over the southwest United States before settling in houses next door to each other in Walnut Creek, California, midway through Roger’s high school years. Five years later, his beloved Giants would follow him west to become the San Francisco Giants.


The early death of Roger’s mom while he was in college was a profound loss. He transferred from Westmont College to San Jose State University, getting an apartment with men who would prove to be lifelong friends. Ralph Higgins, Jerry Horton, Dwight Klassen, Joe Medal, Bob Rodde, and Roger called themselves “The Baggers” and remained close their whole lives.


He was active at First Baptist Church in San Jose, California, first as the college group leader and then hired on staff in Public Relations. That church is where he met Kay Lynne Keethler, getting to know her while they were in a play where he played the role of her older brother. They were married on March 27, 1965.


Roger spent time in the Air Force Reserves and the Air National Guard, and worked in many different facets of public relations and advertising, including starting his own business in the 1970s. He always wanted to use his writing and creative skills to support Christian work. Some of the work he was most proud of came with Merrill Womach and National Music in Spokane, Washington (at two different points in his life), with Billy Zeoli and Gospel Films, writing articles for Christianity Today Magazine, and doing promotional work for Francis Shaeffer’s “How Shall We Then Live?” and “Whatever Happened to the Human Race?” conferences. He was honest with his questions about faith, but he stayed committed to Christ.


Family was most important to him. Sons Gregg and Doug came along in 1968 and 1972, but he deeply cared for all his extended family: cousins, nieces and nephews, and eventually his five grandchildren, Natalie, Hayley, Aubrey, Nathan, and Ally. He loved supporting their sports and other extracurricular activities.


Moves to Oregon, back to California, and then to Washington for their retirement years led friends to tease that the Koskelas always remained in pencil in their address book. He loved lakes and water and the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. And he enjoyed good cooking and good food: his mom’s pies, a good breakfast at a “greasy spoon,” an excellent chile relleno, and Baskin Robbins’ “Baseball Nut” ice cream were a few of the things he loved most.


Roger was preceded in death by his mother, Helen; his father, Hugo; and his step-mother, Dollie Larson. He is survived by his wife of almost 59 years, Kay Lynne; son, Gregg and Elaine Koskela and their children, Natalie and Nolan Koskela-Staples, Hayley Koskela, and Aubrey Koskela; and son, Doug and Jamie Koskela and their children, Nathan Koskela and Ally Koskela.


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