Rick passed away peacefully on November 3, 2022. His obituary can be found here. On this page, is a memorial article, “Remembering Kaz” written by by Charlotte and Gene DuPree. It was originally published in the December 2022 edition of Spectrum (the newsletter of the Northern Cross Science Foundation), and is reproduced here with permission of the authors. To view the homepage of this site the way that Rick left it, please click here.
When we went to Rick Kazmierski’s memorial service on Saturday November 12, we learned that his love for astronomy goes to his childhood. He would take his siblings to the house rooftop to look at the stars and planets. His sister recalled that as a teen, he ground a mirror for a telescope he made. The family spoke highly of him as the oldest child, a kind person, a philosopher, and a prankster. Rick and his wife Mickey had land with a trailer near Dodgeville, where the dark skies inspired his passion for astrophotography. He also had his hobbies: woodworking, camping, family time and Sheepshead. One time Rick noticed an eight-inch DOB telescope we had. “I know that scope,” he said, “I helped Harold build it.” We had bought it from the man Harold had sold it to. At one time we had four members named Rick in the NCSF club. I took to calling him “Kaz”. Mickey told me he was just tickled when I did. He had always wanted that to be his nickname. When the Kazmierski family moved to West Bend, they built an observatory in the backyard and he became dedicated to taking night pictures. Rick also shared his astronomy knowledge at the grade school his grandchildren attended and received many thank-you cards from the students. He would host stargazing nights with the home-schooled neighbors. He helped start the club’s astrophotography group and was on two NCRAL committees.
We learned more about Kaz when we started spending time with him after the death of his wife Mickey in 2017. He and Gene would play cribbage once a week. He knew we were involved with bowling and he surprised us one day, saying he bought a bowling ball, then joined us three days a week. We also discovered how competitive he could be, and his family agrees with that. From Ernie Mastroianni: I first met Kaz in the late 1990s while hanging out at a camera store at Bayshore Mall. I’d go there to talk shop, look at gear, and get my film processed. On the day I met him, he was picking up prints of some spectacular astronomy pictures he made, including a shot of the edge-on galaxy NGC 891 that he took under the dark skies near Dodgeville.
Started with film
As a budding astrophotographer, I instantly recognized his talent at getting the most out of film, which was a difficult thing to do in the pre-digital days. His astrophotography always stunned me. He wasn’t an imaging professional, but the way he composed and processed his photos revealed a professional touch.
I worked more closely with him when the club decided to pursue buying astrophotography gear, and later, when he asked me to become a regular contributor to the Spectrum newsletter in 2014. As a veteran journalist, I’ve worked with many editors over the decades, and he was one of the best. He was patient, generous with praise, but had a gentle way with a firm nudge when deadlines approached. Rick edited the Spectrum for 12 years, producing a four-page newsletter 144 times without fail. He kept members informed with a style that nicely mirrored the personality and enthusiasm of the NCSF members. Kaz left his mark in many ways with the club: Board member, editor, active participant in public viewing nights, often traveling to out of town and out-of-state star parties and regional meetings. His NCSF legacy will live on.