Myrna Dee Mehaffey Kosko ended all her Cub Scout meetings with a game, something fun for the boys.
On Thursday night, she was figuring out the score and which of her Scouts would win the prize she brought: a big kite.
“Somebody was going to win that kite,” said Marianne Lenard, an elementary school teacher who worked with Kosko for more than two decades and whose sons have had Kosko as a Scout leader.
That’s when Kosko suffered a brain aneurysm and collapsed. She died Saturday at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. She was 65.
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Now, everyone who knew Kosko is likely trying to figure out how to fill the holes left by the longtime Clover resident who committed her life to helping others, Lenard said.
But as Lenard’s 9-year-old son told his mother, Kosko, his Scout leader, was doing what she wanted: bringing joy to others.
Her tireless enthusiasm and generosity will be sorely missed, friends, fellow church members and family say.
Kosko was a “uniquely humble servant spirit” who “drew energy and satisfaction from the act of helping people, not the recognition” that she often earned from it, said Pastor Douglass Key of the Clover Presbyterian Church, where Kosko was a member since 1979.
Her service earned her much respect and recognition. In 2000, she received Clover’s Citizen of the Year Award. In 2010, she received the E. Mack McCarter Citizenship Award.
At church, she was elected deacon in 1996, awarded an Honorary Life member of Presbyterian Women in 1997 and elected as elder in 1999.
She was a member of the Clover Optimist Club and involved in the club’s youth efforts.
As a longtime leader of Cub Scout Pack 237, Kosko held many positions and received many honors in the Palmetto Council Boy Scouts of America including the Silver Beaver Award.
A teacher for 40 years, Kosko retired in 2008 but never really “retired,” her sons say. She worked as a substitute teacher several days a week.
She spent her life devoted to others, especially children and those who didn’t have as much as others.
Sending Christmas story books to school children and helping economically disadvantaged families receive Christmas gifts were just some of the projects she organized, Key said.
“She wanted to keep children from believing that economic disadvantage somehow indicated a lack of God’s love for them,” he said.
If for some reason a child couldn’t get somewhere, Kosko “could find any address, she would go to any home,” Key said. “That’s just who Myrna was. She was tireless.”
So tireless, her fellow church members “won’t know everything Myrna Kosko was doing for months,” because she did so much, so well, for so long, he said.
Kosko’s death coming just hours after she was “in the bloom of health” has been a shock to the community, Key said.
“The hardest part of this week was our adjusting to the reality that Myrna wasn’t indestructible.”
A generous life
Ernie Myrick, a fellow Scout leader, said Kosko’s story begins with the Scout’s Oath, serving God and country, helping others at all time, keeping herself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.
“There are many people that say things and they wear the uniform of whatever organization they’re in, but Myrna lived her life that way,” Myrick said.
Lenard said Kosko might have been 20 years older than her, but she would “work circles” around her at Kinard Elementary School in Clover, where the two worked together for years.
“She’s always giving of herself and never thinking of herself,” Lenard said. “Her whole life has been in service to other people. I don’t know what I’m going to do without her.”
Even the vehicle Kosko chose to drive embodied her giving nature.
Her son Peter Kosko tried to convince her to downsize the family vehicle, a large passenger van – the kind she’d always insisted on having – to an SUV, but she refused.
“Somebody had to carry the kids around, the Scouting stuff around,” he said.
Key said of Myrna and her husband, Jim Kosko, that they were “the only retired couple” he knew who drove a passenger van.
“They never wanted for something to not happen because there weren’t enough seats” – a legacy Key said Jim Kosko will continue.
Peter Kosko also recalled his mother’s energy: how as a boy he would go with her to students’ homes when parents couldn’t make it to school to see her, how educational vacations were the only kind, and how she enjoyed camping and Scouting and could invigorate any crowd.
“Mom did all those fun, cheesy cheers,” Peter said of his mother the Cub Scout leader. “She was always up for a round of singing ‘Head shoulders knees and toes,’” he said.
“Mom was never like other moms. Nobody else’s mother was going with a motor like that. You couldn’t not notice.”