Marty and Janie Kocman grew up only three miles apart, but did not meet until they were seniors in high school. That is when “the arrow struck” and they dated while attending Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. Following graduation, they married and recently celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary. The affection Marty and Janie have for each other has grown deeper through the years because of the common bond they share in love of teaching, life goals and activities.
Marty and Janie were born in 1947 and lived in neighboring cities in Indiana. Janie (nee Dahlkamp) was the second of five children in the family. She says her escapades as a child would “fill a book”. “I have always maintained I am short because I was spanked so much! I was the original ‘Evel Knievel’ riding off the front porch on my tricycle, splitting my chin open, having to have stitches resulting in my continuing fear of needles.” One of Marty’s favorite childhood memories was hearing his mother speak of her early life and immigration, at age sixteen, to America from Czechoslovakia. She spoke no English, but had instructions pinned on her coat to get her to her aunt’s home in Gary, Indiana.
The high school Marty and Janie attended was in Hammond, Indiana. Each class year had over 500 students, so it was not until they shared a class as seniors that they met. According to Janie, “because I was so small the boys picked on me, and would move my chair to the front of the class before the teacher arrived”. One of those boys was Marty.
During summers in high school (and college) Marty worked in factories to help with his college plans. His love of music accelerated in high school with involvement in band and choir. In his senior year, Marty won the “Young Artist” competition on flute and soloed with the Chicago Heights Symphony Orchestra. Marty furthered his love of music earning a Bachelor in Music Education and a M.A. in Flute Performance. One of the highlights of Marty’s college career was marching with the Marching Hundred in the 1968 Rose Bowl Parade at half time of the IU-USC game.
Following graduation from college, Marty began his teaching career as a band director in Olympia, Illinois. His symphonic and jazz bands won festivals throughout the midwest. His love of music helped him encourage young musicians to achieve. His bands had opportunities to play with many famous professional musicians. Marty retired from high school teaching in 2003 and took a position as Director of Jazz Studies at Governor’s State University until he and Janie moved to Bartlett, Tennessee in 2006. Janie earned a B.S. in Education and later a M.S. in Communications. As a career educator, in Flossmoor, Illinois. Janie taught Home Economics to junior high students for thirty-four years, retiring in 2002.
The move to Bartlett was another chapter in the lives of the Kocman’s. Their love of gardening was manifested in their home being a “showplace” of beauty. Their love of travel took them many places. They traveled to Slovakia to visit Marty’s aunt and uncle, survived three earthquakes while in Costa Rica, experienced an insurrection in Guatemala and cruised with Orca whales on the coast of Alaska. A “dark experience” occurred when visiting Coober Pedy, Australia, a town carved entirely out of rock and underground because of the temperature there.
Marty became involved with the Bartlett Symphony, creating the Flute Choir which performed several times at Kirby. Because of their love of miniature objects, both Janie and Marty became involved in hobbies that nurtured that love. Marty builds and flies remote control airplanes. Janie belongs to Tri-M, a miniature group. She has several collections, including Santas, teddy bears and a lovely dollhouse with museum quality miniatures.
In contemplating their later years, the Kocmans decided to look at possible senior living facilities. When they toured the Garden Homes at Kirby, they fell in love with a home and the LifeCare Community concept. Since moving into their home in May of 2020, they have enjoyed planting and tending to the many plants and flowers they have added. Their Birman cat, Biscuit, is especially fond of their screened in porch where she watches for her dog friend, Josh Colditz.
Although happy to be at Kirby Pines, Marty and Janie agree, “It is unfortunate that we moved here in the middle of the pandemic because it has not allowed us to get acquainted with all of our neighbors or to participate in the activities. However, we have been most impressed by the welcoming people we have met here. One of our favorite things are the ‘yummy’ pancakes Cory makes each Tuesday morning in the Bistro”.
There is much to love about the Kocman’s. Despite the pandemic, Marty has participated in solo flute performances and both have participated in the mask and Halloween contests at Kirby. The talents, personalities and professionalism of both Janie and Marty Kocman are welcomed assets to the Kirby family, known for the LOVE we have for each other.
Written by Joan Dodson, Resident, Kirby Pines