Hundreds gather in Northampton to remember state Rep. Peter Kocot 

  • Nicole Lania, center, of Westwood, daughter of Mark and Mary (Kocot) Lania, carries the ashes of her uncle Peter Kocot into St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Northampton for his funeral Tuesday. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Shauneen Kocot, widow of Peter Kocot, is escorted by her sons, Luke, arm-in-arm with her, and Jake, just behind them, in grey, as they leave St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Northampton following the funeral of the late state representative for the 1st Hampshire District, on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Jay Czelusniak, foreground, of Czelusniak Funeral Home, leads Shauneen Kocot and her sons, Luke, left, and Jake, just behind her, into St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Northampton for the funeral of her husband, Peter Kocot, the late state representative for the 1st Hampshire District, on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Shauneen Kocot, center, widow of Peter Kocot, is escorted by her sons Luke, arm-in-arm with her, and Jake, just behind them, in gray, as they leave St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Northampton following Tuesday’s funeral of the late state representative for the 1st Hampshire District. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Communion at the funeral for Peter Kocot, the late state representative for the 1st Hampshire District, on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018 at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF / CAROL LOLLIS

  • Jake Kocot speaks at the funeral of his father, Peter Kocot, Tuesday, at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Northampton. GAZETTE STAFF / CAROL LOLLIS

  • Former state Rep. Ellen Story of Amherst and others enter St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Northampton for the funeral of Peter Kocot, the late state representative for the 1st Hampshire District, on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / CAROL LOLLIS

  • Robert DeLeo speaks at the funeral for Peter Kocot, the late state representative for the 1st Hampshire District, on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018 at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF / CAROL LOLLIS

  • Robert DeLeo speaks at the funeral for Peter Kocot, the late state representative for the 1st Hampshire District, on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018 at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF / CAROL LOLLIS

  • The funeral for Peter Kocot, the late state representative for the 1st Hampshire District, on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018 at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF / CAROL LOLLIS

  • Shauneen Kocot leaves with her son Luke, right, and Jake, back right, after the funeral for her husband and father of the boys, Peter Kocot, the late state representative for the 1st Hampshire District, on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018 at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Northampton. —GAZETTE STAFF / CAROL LOLLIS

  • Peter V. Kocot 

  • Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, upper left, and Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo chat outside Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Northampton before the funeral of Peter Kocot, the late state representative for the 1st Hampshire District, on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Representative Stephen Kulik of the 1st Franklin District was one of many politicians attending the funeral of Peter Kocot, the late state representative for the 1st Hampshire District, at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Northampton on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Representative John Scibak of the Second Hampshire District greets other politicians, included Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, upper left, outside of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Northampton before the funeral of Peter Kocot, the late state representative for the 1st Hampshire District, on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, upper left, and Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo chat outside Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Northampton before the funeral of Peter Kocot, the late state representative for the 1st Hampshire District, on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Mourners wait to enter Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Northampton for the funeral of Peter Kocot, the late state representative for the 1st Hampshire District, on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Nicole Lania of Westwood, daughter of Mark and Mary (Kocot) Lania, carries the ashes of her uncle, Peter Kocot, from Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Northampton following the funeral for the late state representative from the 1st Hampshire District on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Jay Czelusniak of Czelusniak Funeral Home leads Shauneen Kocot and her sons Luke, left, and Jake, just behind her, into Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Northampton for the funeral of Peter Kocot, the late state representative for the 1st Hampshire District, on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

@BeraDunau
Published: 2/27/2018 2:54:17 PM

NORTHAMPTON — State Rep. Peter V. Kocot was remembered Tuesday at his funeral Mass as a kind, intelligent and devoted family man who lived life with passion and a deep sense of purpose.

He was described by House Speaker Robert DeLeo as “the epitome of what a public servant should be” who fought for transparency and integrity in government. Other speakers described him as a big-hearted man who enjoyed the outdoors, good food and time spent with those he loved.

The Rev. Christopher Malatesta needed a mere four words to describe Kocot’s impact on the community and all that he stood for. “Peter was a giant,” he told the hundreds of people who gathered for the hour-plus-long service at St. Ann Elizabeth Seton Church on King Street.

Kocot, a Northampton Democrat who had served the 1st Hampshire District as its state representative since 2002, died Thursday following a brief battle with lung cancer. He was 61.

Malatesta said Kocot was a “champion for civil rights” as a legislator, and that he had a number of other roles, including son, brother, husband, dad and friend.

“His colleagues describe him as the model of a public servant,” said Malatesta. “An incredible force for good.”

The church seats about 400 people, and the pews were packed. Dozens more people stood along the walls beneath the sun-drenched, stained-glass windows and at the back of the church to pay their respects to the revered lawmaker and family man who grew up on Chestnut Street in Florence and graduated from Northampton High School in 1974.

Joining family, friends and community members at the service were more than 100 current and former state lawmakers, Mayor David Narkewicz and Gov. Charlie Baker. DeLeo was among those who reflected on Kocot’s life and time as a legislator in an impassioned eulogy.

An honorable man

DeLeo noted that everyone who is elected to the Massachusetts House is referred to as “The Honorable,” and said that no one had ever deserved that title more than Kocot. “Peter brought honor to everything he did,” said DeLeo, who described him as a giant of a man in intellect, stature and kindness.

DeLeo pointed to Kocot’s role as chairman of the House Committee on Ethics in drafting the 2009 ethics reform bill, and said Kocot had strived to make government “as honest and decent as he was” throughout his tenure in the House.

The speaker said he had appointed Kocot chairman of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing last year to work on a health care bill, and that he had worked on this task with passion, even after finding out that he had cancer.

“Don’t worry about me Mr. Speaker, I’m gonna do that bill,” said DeLeo, quoting Kocot. “That’s the type of gentleman that he was.”

In closing, DeLeo asked everyone present to imagine they were in the Statehouse, before he called on Kocot one last time. “God speed, my good friend,” said DeLeo.

Other speakers included Kocot’s son Jake Kocot and Kocot’s friend Patrick Goggins of Northampton.

Goggins said he was told to keep things light by Kocot’s wife, Shauneen. Honoring her request, he shared humorous stories about Kocot’s love of hunting, fishing and betting on horses, and Kocot’s apparent lack of skill in all three areas, which sent waves of laughter through the church. He also noted how Kocot was funny and self-deprecating, and a pleasure to be around.

“He was a great guy,” Goggins said.

Jake Kocot singled out a number of friends and family members and shared his father’s love and appreciation for them, particularly for Shauneen. Indeed, he said that he never saw his parents fight.

“They truly made it look so easy just to be in love,” he said.

Cooking skills

Following the service, a large number of family and friends gathered at the Northampton Country Club for a reception, all of whom Shauneen Kocot said were close to her husband. “Everybody in this room I think Pete could say he loved,” she said.

Kocot was skilled in cooking, and Shauneen said her husband used to auction off his services as a cook.

At the reception, Mike and Sherrie Jules noted how Kocot had displayed his culinary talents during annual New Year’s celebrations in Maine that had been held at their mutual friend Dave Marley’s place. “He could have been a chef,” said Mike Jules, a chef himself. “He had a lot of talent.”

Rep. John Scibak, D-South Hadley, and Rep. Stephen Kulik, D-Worthington, longtime friends and colleagues of Kocot, both said the turnout for Kocot’s funeral by lawmakers was the biggest that they had ever seen for a colleague.

“This is clearly the largest,” Scibak said.

“He was universally loved,” said Kulik. “He made you feel like his friend.”

Both men also noted how both Republicans and Democrats had showed up to pay their respects.

“He was always genuine,” said Rep. Shawn Dooley, R-Norfolk.

Many at the reception praised Jake Kocot’s eulogy for his father, which he wrote with his brother Luke.

“My son’s … eulogy could not have been any more perfect,” Shauneen Kocot said.

She also confirmed that during their 29 years of marriage, she and her husband never fought.

“I consider myself honestly one of the most blessed women in the world,” Shauneen said. “He treated me like a queen.”

In his closing remarks at the service, Jake Kocot noted how his father kept his personal and professional life separate, and that while the professional Kocot wore a suit coat, when relaxing he preferred a golf shirt, an old pair of khaki shorts and mismatched white tube socks pulled up to two different heights.

“But somehow, still managed to always look cool,” said his son.

Jake Kocot encouraged those in attendance to strive for justice for all people, before encouraging them to hike up their tube socks and don red golf shirts of their own.

“Take someone you love on an adventure,” he said.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.





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