Commerce aide remembered as dedicated Stephen Kaminski's love of family, job recalled

April 14, 1996|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

Stephen C. Kaminski, a Baltimore native who was among those killed in the plane crash with Commerce Secretary Ronald H. Brown, was remembered yesterday as a man who worked tirelessly at a job he loved, who brought strawberries to staff meetings and who once celebrated Easter in Tokyo by putting on a hat and doing the bunny hop for a group of delighted children.

Mr. Kaminski, a counselor for commercial affairs assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Vienna, Austria, was buried in Loudon Park Cemetery in Baltimore, about 4,700 miles from war-damaged Croatia, where he died in the April 3 crash. About 250 people attended the funeral, including Mr. Kaminski's wife Kathleen and their daughter, Christina.

Mr. Kaminski, 41, was accompanying Mr. Brown on a trade mission to Bosnia when their plane crashed in a severe storm, killing all 35 on board.

Family members and colleagues described Mr. Kaminski as a hard-working professional who brought creative ideas to his role in fostering commercial development. He loved his family and enjoyed sports, music and art.

Laura Tyson, director of the National Economic Council, read a letter from President Clinton, who praised Mr. Kaminski as a dedicated public servant.

"All of us in the [Clinton] administration have been profoundly affected and profoundly saddened" by the deaths, Ms. Tyson said.

Co-worker Keith Curtis, who worked with Mr. Kaminski in the Commerce Department's Tokyo office, recalled how Mr. Kaminski's late hours at work became fodder for stories. He recalled Mr. Kaminski, working late one night, being locked out of his office after leaving his desk to use the restroom. Mr. Kaminski crawled in through an office window and continued working, Mr. Curtis said.

A colleague from Vienna sent a message recalling Mr. Kaminski at staff meetings in his gray suit and slightly rumpled tie, "leaning dangerously close to the cookie platter" and spicing the meeting with puns.

Steve Kaminski grew up as an ordinary American boy, said his father. Edward Kaminski shared memories of his son in a stroller on the back porch, offering bites of his cookie to the dog; of Steve Kaminski on his first day of kindergarten at Woodbourne Elementary School, taking charge of children who were crying and getting them interested in playing with toys; and of the soapbox racer they built and hauled atop the family car to Washington to race.

"We were his first family, and then when he got married, Kathy was his second family and Commerce [Department] was his third family," Edward Kaminski said.

Pub Date: 4/14/96

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