A Tribute to George Katz


On behalf of the JCC of LBI I want to extend our deepest condolences to the family: Herb & Karen, Barbara & Steve and all the grandchildren.

I think I have told you that George reminded me of my father – an old fashioned accountant, papers always cluttering the kitchen table and yes very stubborn and set in his ways. The only difference was that George was very witty and had some great one-liners. I don’t remember my dad every telling a joke.

I have been active in the JCC for 13 years and all that time George was our Treasurer. Since we did not have a mail box, we had a post office box on 74 th street right around the corner from George’s street and he used to pick up the mail every day. Everyone in the post office knew George. As President of the JCC, I suggested to George that perhaps the secretary should pick up the mail; he wasn’t too happy and just kept on emptying the post office box each day. I tried to beat him to the post office, l but he just would get there earlier.

George came to the JCC office every day. He would pull up in his car with the Katz license plate and come into the building brief case in hand. He would put the briefcase on the lectern and open it up to take out his black notebook with the hand written ledgers of the financial transactions of the day. And then there were the receipts he carefully wrote out for each donation to the congregation. He worried

when money did not come in in the winter and when he thought we were overextending ourselves. He treated our CDs like his own children and was one a first name basis with everyone at the bank. It was a sad day when we needed to ask George to step down as Treasurer. It was time but caring for George and knowing the pride he took in his work, we hated to do it.

The JCC is like a family, especially the office staff and active members. When it was George’s birthday, our former secretary, Bonnie, would bring in a cake to surprise him and when we were concerned about George’s health, we would call Barbara to let her know.

George lived just two blocks from my house and since I was one of the people who could sign checks, he often called to ask if he could drop by to get my signatures. He would sit at our kitchen table and tell us all kinds of stories about his war time adventures.

George’s reluctance to evacuate LBI during Irene and then Sandy is a story in itself and was so typical of him. When we heard from Barbara that George was at Southern Regional HS and she was worried about him, we were able to contact one of our members who was also evacuated there. She was able to find him, make sure he had his cell phone on and his medicine (he left it in the car worrying that someone would steal them) and to let the nurse there know the situation. Yes George was a part of our caring family,

Sandy also brought other changes for George. Last winter he lived with his children who watched over him and made sure he ate, took his meds and was occupied. But this time was also bitter-sweet. George loved his place on LBI, filled with all his model airplanes and he loved his independence. I remember the last years of my dad’s life in the apartment he went to live in at the Daughters of Miriam in Clifton. It was big change for him after living in Manhattan and I was there to “tell him what to do” – not easy for him to accept all the time. Yet, I had a chance to help him and nurture him in many of the ways he took care of me over the years.

I do not know why George gave so much of his time to the JCC and to the local AARP. Maybe – like my dad – his love for numbers was a part of his DNA – after all as Jews we early on have to know how to count to 10 to make a minyan. Or perhaps he understood the importance of having a synagogue on LBI. But for whatever reason, he was a very vital part of our synagogue life and made such a difference in the success and credibility of our congregation. He will be remembered and missed.

Rose Valentine 8/15/13