Daniel J. Starr
Perhaps no one will ever know how Daniel Starr died.
But there are many who knew how he lived.
A world traveler and avid scuba diver, Starr had visited 57 countries. His passion was scuba diving, especially exploring the murky depths around the Philippines.
The 28-year-old Palos Hills man was four days into a 10-day trek through the Himalayas when he was found dead Aug. 12, 2008 in a hotel room in Nepal.
The exact cause of death is pending, said his brother, Jason, 32. Starr did not have any medical problems, his brother said.
Hundreds of people attended Starr's funeral last week where he was remembered as a man "with a zest for life" who loved meeting other people and learning new cultures.
Starr traveled extensively, usually with friends and family, but sometimes alone.
He'd be gone for at least a month at a time, his brother said. Starr worked as a union decorator, which means he set up for trade shows.
"Wherever he went, he always carried his Bible and (inside the Bible was) a photo of his friend, Dustin, who died years ago at the age of 18," his brother said. "Daniel lived out of his backpack. That's how he traveled."
Starr was engaged to be married to a girl whom he met four years ago, his brother said.
On their first date, Starr took his girlfriend skydiving, his brother said. "That was Daniel," he said. "That's how he lived his life."
Starr's plan was to get married and move to the Philippines where he was going to open a scuba shop, his brother said.
Starr had started scuba diving five years ago and was hooked, his brother said.
"He went scuba diving in some of the best dive spots in the world, including Coron Bay (in the Philippines) and Sipadan (in Malaysia)," Jason Starr said. "He'd also been to the Blue Hole in the Red Sea. He loved diving for shipwrecks."
Jason Starr said he went to Laos this past winter with his brother and remembers going to a "beautiful waterfall."
"I just remember Daniel walking in front of me, and just following him to this waterfall," Starr said. "I'll have that memory forever."
The brothers also spent time together in a band, the Sons. Daniel Starr was the drummer and his brother played guitar and sang lead vocals.
Jason Starr said he last talked to Daniel a week before he died.
Starr said Daniel was leaving Kashmir on his way to Nepal for the trek of the Himalayas.
"He was made of iron," Starr said of his brother. "I don't know what happened. I think he may have gotten sick, but I don't know if we ever will know for sure."
Starr's mother, Donna, said her son "loved living in the moment."
"He loved to travel," she said. "But wherever he was he brought back a piece of the world to share with his friends and family."
Ruth M. Bretveld
Ruth M. Bretveld (nee Triezenberg), 76, of Alsip, died Sept. 3, 2008. She was a retired church secretary. Arrangements are by Colonial Chapel, (708) 532-5400.
John W. Josupait
John W. Josupait, 79, of Orland Park, died Aug. 25, 2008. He was a retired minister at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Oak Lawn. Arrangements were by Kosary Funeral Home, (708) 499-3223.
Herman 'Roy' Motes
Herman "Roy" Motes, 64, of Matteson, died Sept. 3, 2008. He worked in the trucking industry. Arrangements are by Kosary Funeral Home, (708) 499-3223.
Stanley F. Nasakaitis
Stanley F. Nasakaitis, 85, of Orland Park, died Aug. 19, 2008. He was a stationary engineer. Arrangements were by Kosary Funeral Home, (708) 499-3223.
Cheryl A. Prusinski
Cheryl A. Prusinski (nee Fuss), 49, of Evergreen Park, died Aug. 26, 2008. She worked in the banking and health care industries. Arrangements are by Kosary Funeral Home, (708) 499-3223.
Connell G. Gray
Connell G. Gray, 55, formerly of Chicago Heights, died Aug. 26, 2008. He worked in a glass factory. Arrangements are by Woods Funeral Home, (708) 755-2010.
Alene V. Miles
Alene V. Miles (nee Wellborn), 86, of Orland Park, died Sept. 3, 2008. She was the former owner of the Ranch Restaurant in Evergreen Park. Arrangements are by Colonial Chapel, (708) 532-5400.
Judy Polak (nee Perkins), of Alsip, died Sept. 2, 2008. She was a retired home sales representative. Arrangements are by Becvar & Son Funeral Home, (708) 824-9000.
Ellen N. Winland
Ellen N. Winland, 71, of Beecher, died Sept. 2, 2008. She was the owner of a tire store. Arrangements are by Beecher Funeral Home, (708) 946-6000.
Gertrude Gallo, 93, of Lemont, died Aug. 28, 2008. She was a retired factory worker. Arrangements are by Colonial Chapel, (708) 532-5400.
Minnie L. Jetton
Minnie L. Jetton, 86, of Orland Park, died Aug. 28, 2008. She was a retired registered nurse. Arrangements are by Colonial Chapel, (708) 532-5400.
Lawrence J. Lewis
Lawrence J. Lewis, 66, of Orland Park, died Aug. 28, 2008. He was an accountant and a Navy veteran. Arrangements are by Zimmerman and Sandeman Funeral Homes, (708) 460-7500.
Maria C. Vela
Maria C. Vela, 65, of Chicago Heights, died Aug. 26, 2008. She was a meter maid. Arrangements are by Fagen-Miller Funeral Home, (219) 365-2674.
Francis S. "Frank" Samoraj
Francis "Frank" Samoraj was about as South Side Polish as they come.
Speaking only Polish until the age of 10 and hosting his own polka radio show, Mr. Samoraj was proud of his Polish roots.
Mr. Samoraj died of heart problems Saturday, Sept. 20, 2008 near his Orland Park home. He was 69.
Born October 4, 1938, and raised in Pittsburgh, Mr. Samoraj attended a Polish Catholic grade school and high school before attending General Motors Institute. His parents did not have enough money to send him to college, so Mr. Samoraj's uncle said he would pay for his education if he went to the institute. Afterward, he worked at his uncle's Pontiac dealership in Chicago.
Mr. Samoraj met his wife at a church dance and promised to give all of her friends a ride home if he could give her a ride, too. It was the middle of winter and below freezing, which made the offer enticing to the friends but not to his future wife.
"He came to Beverly and belonged to the same church as I did (Queen of Martyrs)," said his wife, Carol. "I met Frank at a church dance. I wouldn't give him my number, and it was a very volatile courtship for five years. The day we got married he did his first (polka) radio show."
While working at the Pontiac dealership, Mr. Samoraj would hold Sunday polka dances to attract customers. Another of the employees was involved in radio, and the two decided to start a polka show on WOPA-AM (1450).
As his family continued to grow, he left his uncle's dealership and became instrumental in coordinating computer systems for Consolidated High School District 230. He continued his work on radio and started a noon broadcast of polka music on WOPA.
"I would never tell people he did this, and when people heard my last name, they would ask if I was married to Frank," Carol Samoraj said. "While he was doing that (show), he had two strokes and could never go back because it left his left side paralyzed. He was active in the Polish community and wanted to get an American-based radio show (for Polish people)."
Besides his wife, Mr. Samoraj is survived by daughters Cathy Casey and Cindy Greaney and a sister, Nancy Willig.
A funeral Mass will be at 10 a.m. today at St. Francis of Assisi Church, 15050 Wolf Road, Orland Park. Burial will follow at Good Shepherd Cemetery, 16201 104th Ave., Orland Park.