School 36

Peter "Mike" Michael Kozma, II

September 16, 1949 ~ May 21, 2023 (age 73) 73 Years Old
Obituary Image


The family of Mike Kozma is heartbroken to share that their husband, father, and Pop Pop lost his brief battle with esophageal cancer on May 21 at the SECU Jim and Betsy Bryan Hospice Home of UNC Health Care.   

Mike Kozma was a newspaperman through and through. His newspaper career spanned five decades, from his paper route as a student at Brookland Cayce High School to his senior thesis on muckraking in the works of Charles Dickens at Princeton University to jobs as a reporter, columnist, and editor at many papers, including The Columbia Record, The Fayetteville Observer, and The Bergen Record. The newspaper business ran in his blood. His father, who passed away when Mike was ten years old, was a reporter for The State and an English teacher at Lexington High School. Mike’s passion for writing was greater than his career in journalism. You rarely saw him without a yellow legal pad, and he would furiously scribble text for the novel he was writing with his good friend Jim Melfi. His friends hope to self-publish his book posthumously.

Mike's love of music paralleled his passion for writing. He was a gifted trombone player who started in the high school marching band and continued playing with community groups. He enjoyed all kinds of music, but his heart was with The Grateful Dead. From seeing shows to collecting albums, Mike’s love of The Dead (and his signature fedora!) defined his identity. His extensive music collection was his prized possession. Mike’s family will cherish his memory by listening to his collection and remembering him dancing “The Grateful Dead Shuffle” around the house. He had tickets for Dead & Company’s farewell tour in Charlotte and Raleigh, but he did not live long enough to attend the shows. His loved ones like to imagine that he traded in those tickets for front row seats to see Jerry Garcia jamming out for Deadheads in the sky.

Mike was proud of his Lebanese ancestry and enjoyed exploring the history and cuisine. One of his many talents was cooking different Lebanese dishes, especially kibbeh. From his memories, the family kibbeh recipe had cinnamon in it, but Mike liked adding allspice and always recommended that people experiment. He will be remembered fondly for his tendency to procrastinate - except with newspaper deadlines - and his family would wait for his kibbeh for hours after they had planned to eat. It was always worth the wait.

Mike loved to share his enthusiasm for nature and hiking. His stories often involved hiking the Appalachian Trail with his mother, Aunt Mary Beth, and Uncle Bill. They said on his first hike with them he collapsed on the trail and begged to be left behind. However, this attitude quickly changed as Mike grew into a skilled mountain hiker, which was a testament to his perseverance, tenacity, and curiosity.

His mother, a beloved elementary school teacher, owned a rustic mountain cabin and the Tip of the Toe gift shop near Burnsville, NC, which she ran during the summer for a decade. During his life, Mike hiked 450 miles of the Appalachian Trail and the entire Great Smoky Mountain Ridge with family and friends. The mountains spoke to him, bought him peace and comfort, and provided the settings for his writing. His ashes will be spread in those beautiful hills.

Mike was born in Columbia, South Carolina, on September 16, 1949, to the late Peter (Butrus) Michael Kozma and Sarah Grace Busbee Kozma. He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Alyce Youmans Kozma, whom he met when they were colleagues at The State; his daughters, Cara Kozma Tsitouris (Alex Tsitouris) and Michelle Kozma (Robert Jones); his grandsons, whom he loved dearly and often beat in Monopoly, Akarion and Michael Kozma, and Jackson, Cameron, and Weston Tsitouris; his siblings Karen Kozma Castro (Cosme Castro) and Christopher Kozma (Kathy Heckle Kozma); and his beloved cousins, nieces, and nephews.

To honor Mike, he asked that you do something that brought him joy - listen to music, enjoy nature, do yoga, or reflect on a piece of writing. At a later date, a celebration of life will be held in Columbia, SC. 

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Appalachian Trail Conservancy, PO Box 807, Harpers Ferry WV 25425-9988, 

Donaldson Funeral Home & Crematory are honored to serve the Kozma family. 





You can still show your support by sending flowers directly to the family

© 2023 Donaldson Funeral Home & Crematory. All Rights Reserved. Funeral Home website by CFS & TA | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Accessibility