Professor Emeritus Leon Katz, age 94, passed away on Jan 2, 2015.
Leon Katz was born in New York City, on November 17, 1920, to professional musicians Israel Katz and Ida Elkan Katz. His mother was a pianist, composer and piano teacher; his father was a violinist who performed with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Leon’s family lived in Detroit, Michigan, until Leon was nine years old and returned to New York at the start of the Great Depression.
At age 13, Leon experienced a near drowning that motivated him to learn to swim. Fortunately, a champion swimmer noticed him, and offered him free swim instruction.
Leon went on to study at Stuyvesant High School, followed by The City College of New York, where he studied Electrical Engineering and was a member of the swim team for both.
Prof. Katz’s career in private industry included the Westinghouse Company in Sharon, PA and Newark, NJ before serving in the Merchant Marines during WW II. He joined the faculty of The City College of New York (CCNY) in Electrical Engineering in 1949 and in 1960 became a professor of Electrical Technology at Queensborough Community College (QCC). He co-authored "Transients in Electrical Circuits" a book on power engineering, published by Prentice Hall, that his wife, Dorothea, helped edit. He retired from teaching in 1990.
Throughout his life, Leon endeavored to pass along the life-saving knowledge of swimming to as many people as he could. He gave back the gift of swimming to thousands of children and adults from the mid-1950’s to the early 1970’s working with the New York City Parks Department's Learn-To-Swim program, organizing the Lower East Side Neighborhood Association (LENA) athletic club for inner-city children. As a volunteer with the Veteran’s Association he initiated a water rehabilitation program for injured veterans. Alongside his professional career, he coached swimming at the Sol Goldberg (14th St Y) YMHA for 40 years. He was honored by the American Red Cross for 40 years of volunteer service as a Water Safety Instructor. In 1991 he was awarded the CCNY Alumni Varsity Association’s Service Award for volunteerism in the area of athletics, and was inducted into their Hall of Fame. In 1996, he was honored by the National Fitness Leaders Association for
Leon Katz was a long time resident of the Lower East Side. He is survived by three daughters and one son, Dr. Jane Katz, Paul Katz, Elaine Kuperberg and June Guzman; five grandchildren: Jason, Stephen, Justin, Austen and Autumn and one great grandson: Julian. He was preceded in death by his parents, two older brothers, and his wife, Dorothea.
A funeral service for Leon Katz will be held at Gramercy Park Memorial Chapel, 353 Second Ave (bet 20 & 21 St.), New York, NY on Sunday, January 11, 2015. Photo viewing and visiting at 10:30 AM. Service scheduled to start promptly at11:00 AM.
Although Leon did not follow his parents in a career in music, he had a great appreciation for classical music throughout his life. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation to his favorite radio station, listener-supported WQXR.
Your memories and thoughts are welcome through sharing on an online guestbook. Please visit the NY Times guestbook and/or the Dignity Memorial website.