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'Big-hearted and full-spirited:' Company mourns loss of Milwaukee native killed in Sri Lanka

Posted at 7:46 AM, Apr 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-22 14:14:09-04

A Milwaukee native that was traveling to Sri Lanka on business has been confirmed dead by his company.

Dieter Kowalski was one of nearly 300 people killed in the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks that targeted churches and hotels.

Kowalski worked as a senior leader of the Operational Services Team at Pearson, a major education publishing and assessment firm. His mother tells Today's TMJ-4 he was in Sri Lanka to take on more responsibilities in the company. Pearson says he had been to Sri Lanka before.

Colleagues who knew Dieter well talk about how much fun he was to be around, how big-hearted and full-spirited he was. They tell of a man to whom we could give our ugliest and most challenging of engineering problems, knowing full well that he would jump straight in and help us figure it out. Dieter, they tell me, was never happier than cheer-leading for our customers and our company and inspiring people in the best way he knew how – by helping them to fix things and doing it with joy, happiness and grace. He was a man who took great pride in the purpose of our company – helping our students progress in their studies and their lives mattered to him.
Pearson CEO John Fallon

On Facebook, Kowalski posted about taking the long flight to Sri Lanka. His mother had hoped he would be sleeping in his hotel, recovering from the flight but believes he was getting breakfast at the Cinnamon Grand Colombo Hotel when it was bombed.

Kowalski is originally from Milwaukee, but was living in Denver for the last 20 years. His mother says he owned several properties in the area because he was passionate about remodeling homes. She says she has a number of things to figure out but is working towards having his remains brought back to Milwaukee.