I believe in people. I believe that every person is uniquely designed in God’s image. I believe that God designed me to serve people by helping them to create a meaningful life celebration that reflects a life well lived. I was born in 1974 to my parents Lou and Carolyn Kolssak. I am the youngest of three boys. I grew up above the funeral home and learned at a very young age to treat others greater than myself. I graduated from Wheeling High School in 1993 and excelled in football, academics and the fine arts such as musicals, jazz band and show choir. I attended Purdue University and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and also had a band, Gift Horse that rocked the walls of stages around the Big Ten. I was truly blessed the last semester before graduation, I met a young woman Michelle Wishlinski who stole my heart. Once she graduated from Purdue and I from Worsham College of Mortuary Science we began our married life together. A few years later our family began with Karlynne and then Taylor. We are also pet parents of two dogs Rocky and Mickey. I take great pride in investing myself into the families that I serve to create a funeral experience that touches the heart and celebrates the moments in life that take our breath away.
My father died when I was 10 years old. That was my first close encounter with grief. Questions about life, its purpose and why was my loss so much greater than my peers’ experience disturbed me. I grew up wanting to meet peoples’ needs. At DePaul University, I received a B.A. in Sociology, did some social work after graduation. I met Lou, married him and he suggested I attend Mortuary School. It seemed a perfect fit! With my first hand experience with grief and its effect on my life, and my education, I was ready. Or so I thought. Some needs, like the fear of death itself, could only be met by Someone Who loved me enough to die for me, to take the penalty for all my sins and give me a peace which surpassed all understanding and a promise to live forever in His presence. In 1980 I began my journey of study into the Bible. It has sustained me and He has enabled me to meet the needs of other people in the throes of grief.
He is also a graduate of Purdue University with a BS in Management (M 91). Although not in the funeral home on a day to day basis, David helps to manage the overall strategic direction and financial strength of the funeral home. Working with his brother Jon, David successfully petitioned the local government to allow for alcohol to be served in a dignified and meaningful way for those families who choose to add this service to their life celebrations. David, who is the president of TURNkey IT, helps to integrate useful technologies in the funeral home. Things have come a long way from the single pc that David implemented in 1987 while still in high school. From the digital register book to public / private wifi segmentation, to audio / video distribution, and information systems, the funeral home is a sophisticated implementor of useful technologies that help to deliver unique and quality services for the families we serve. Picture is taken just after we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary at the Graceland Chapel in Las Vegas. Elvis performed the vow renewal ceremony. What great fun
Melissa Kolssak - “Wears many hats” at the funeral home.
From working in the office to assisting families to pre-need arrangements to cleaning the facilities to generally lending a hand wherever necessary. Melissa graduated with a BS in Restaurant, Hotel and Institutional Management (RHI) from Purdue University in 1992. Her education and experience in the hospitality industry gives Melissa a unique perspective in the funeral home. Although not a licensed funeral director, she is a licensed life insurance agent which allows her to pre-arrange funeral services for the many families we serve. When not in the funeral home, Melissa is the mother of two boys – David II and Chase. Melissa has an excellent work ethic and always has a smile on her face.
I was born the second of three boys in the small South Central Illinois town of Mattoon. I began working in funeral service while attending high school. I learned from the start the value of service, professionalism, and a personal touch. After completing my education at Worsham College of Mortuary Science and serving my apprenticeship I found a new and unique family funeral home to plant my roots and grow and serve the surrounding community. I am blessed to have met my lovely wife, Heather, who understands the funeral industry and allows me to step away from our family to serve others in their time of need. We enjoy spoiling our Scottish Terrier, Piper. Most of our free time is spent riding our Harleys, we are active members and I serve as Director of the Lake Shore H.O.G. Chapter. I am also passionate about funeral service education, I currently lecture at professional seminars and mortuary schools on how to become a better embalmer. Although I have moved away from small town America I still hold true to the values of honest hometown family centered service that best fits the needs of every unique and different family I serve.
Helping people has always been a priority in my life. Ever since childhood, I tried my best to put a smile on people’s faces and to support others during times of need. When it was time to think about careers, I felt a calling to funeral service. I want to help families when they suffer the loss of a loved one and remove as much burden from families as possible.
I grew up locally in Vernon Hills, Illinois. I attended Stevenson High School and graduated in 2012. I have an aging but lovable dog named Buster and a rescue cat named Cami.
I completed one year of studies at St. Mary’s University in Winona, Minnesota in 2013. Subsequently, I studied funeral service at Fayetteville Community College in North Carolina and graduated in 2016. After graduation, I was offered a position at the Kolssak Funeral Home and obtained my Funeral Director license from the state of Illinois in 2017. I could not be happier working for the Kolssak family where I continue to learn from their years of experience in the funeral service business.
Julie Shim - Funeral Director & Owner of Shim Family Funerals
Julie has served the various needs in the Chicagoland community over the past twenty years. Her eclectic professional experiences range from teaching children to managing her own business as well as pastoring Children’s ministry; honed her desire to support families in any way she can. Her passion to serve as well as her skills in connecting with people brought her to her current calling, to assist families in this community as a licensed funeral director. She has a sincere desire to help and support bereaving families during their most vulnerable times.
Julie graduated from Wheaton College with an elementary education degree, attended National Louis University for her master’s program, then she went back to study at Worsham College to obtain her license as a funeral director. For the past two years, Julie has trained and worked in funeral homes in Lake Forest and Arlington Heights. She feels truly honored and privileged to help and serve the community.
I live my life with a passion to serve others. I am consistently looking for ways to improve my community. I am an active member at Saint Peter & Paul Greek Orthodox Church. I am very blessed to share my life with my wife Marian and my children Sam and Alexandra. I am excited to be a part of the Kolssak Team. Their attention to detail and ability to make complicated situations simple are integral to a good funeral experience. It is my goal along with the professional services of Kolssak Funeral Home, to become the leading funeral provider for the Greek Orthodox Community.
"Energy and persistence conquer all things." — Benjamin Franklin
Since 1992, Mary Watson, using the studio name Silver Stone Handcrafted, has been creating significantly beautiful art jewelry and sculpture which she exhibits at fine arts fairs and galleried throughout the United States. Her work has been featured in many publications, books and exhibitions. She has earned numerous national awards including the prestigious Thompson Award (Grand Prize, All Media) for the state of Illinois 2006.
Currently, Ms. Watson is concentrating on the creation of unique and meaningful personal memorials made tangible in the form of jewelry, urn finials and sculpture. Her sense of compassion combined with artistic gifts compel her to create relevant art to help celebrate and individual's life journey and memorialize the spirit of that person after they have passed.
Along with her husband, who is also and artist, she lives, works and plays in a quiet suburb of Chicago. She occasionally enjoys the bustling activities of downtown Chicago as well as the close proximity of the unspoiled natural beauty of Lakes Michigan and Superior and other wonderful areas "Up North".