J Edward Kostelak of Manhattan Beach, dead at the age of 78, having lived a life that would have sent a lesser man to his grave decades earlier. A local fixture around town, his friends at Vons referred to him as "Mr. Smith", the boys at Manhattan Meats "Lucky", his neighbors on Crest "New York", but to his family he was simply "dad."
Born in New York City in 1942 to Julis II and Margret Kostelak he was orphaned with his sisters at the age of 13, all were sent to a children's shelter before being taken in by various family across the City. Ed began working at the age of 14, where worked in numerous delis and meat markets in New York City and its surrounding burrows (most notably Dibenedettos market). He also had a stint in the US Navy before heading west and discovering the "beautiful quaint beach town" of Manhattan Beach in 1960. He would often reminisce about the early 1960s beach scene, the laid back vibe of Southern California in the 1970s and places like "La Paz", "Hibachi", and "Panchos". Despite his turbulent early years, he never allowed his childhood loss to define him. He had an optimistic disposition about him and an ever present puckish sense of humor. Beyond his tough, rugged exterior was an impish smile that was infectious to those who knew him.
He worked in the service industry and in various bars in Downtown Los Angeles in the 70s, and 80s. He commented that he worked in the kind of places where, "if you didn't come in with a weapon, they gave you one," until opening his own operation in the early 90s. He was a student of history and he taught his friends and family many lessons in the way he lived. "Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can." Those who knew him welcomed his unorthodox candor and his irreverent sense of humor seemed to quell whatever sensibilities he may have offended. When the end grew near he left us with this final goodbye "Adios".
He is survived by his loving wife Lydia, two children, Rhonda Somers (Gerardo) and Tony Kostelak (Katie), and 4 beautiful grandchildren, Austin, Max, Sage and Merrick. We will carry you forever in our hearts and with our memory ever smiling. See you on the other side dad.
In lieu of flowers, please make a small donation to LAorphageguild.com
, pay someones open bar tab, ride your strand cruiser, or commit a random act of kindness."
Published by The Beach Reporter on Jul. 9, 2020.