Harry Katzmann, 85, passed away on January 22, 2014 in Ithaca, NY. The son of Edward Harry Katzmann and Ethel Mae Katzmann, Harry was born in Harvey, IL in 1929. He was, and will always be, something of a miracle having entered the world nine weeks premature at a time when survival of early term infants was rare.
Perhaps this entrance gave him license to live life with a bit of abandon.
From the time of adolescence, Harry was something of a prankster, car buff and speed demon. These characteristics gave him precious little moral ground to stand on when all three of his sons would later exhibit similar tendencies in their youth. But it also gave him a wonderful ability to craft a quick quip, or a bad pun, and make the world a bit brighter for the people fortunate enough to get close.
Harry attended DePauw University where his spirit found fertile ground in the ranks of Lamba Chi Alpha fraternity and he earned the name "Towser", a moniker that would follow him throughout his life, accompanied by his legendary growl. Following graduation, Harry married Nancy Colby Leggitt of Wilmette, IL who became his life long companion, dance partner and soul mate for 63 years.
After a six year enlistment in the US Army Reserve where he specialized in personnel management, he then earned a Masters of Science in Psychology from DePaul University in Chicago, and went on to a long career in personnel with Chicago Title and Trust, the American Bar Association and Illinois Institute of Technology, retiring in 1991.
Aside from raising three sons and staying married (he would often start a proposition to his wife with "If we're still married next Tuesday..."), Harry would likely cite two primary accomplishments in his life: racing (and defeating) his grandfather down the Interstate in a 1941 Plymouth without incident; and founding with good friends the Calcutta Saddle and Cycle Club. The CSCC was a social club whose challenging membership requirements entailed stating a preference for brick over wood siding and drew it's electrical supply for the refrigerator from a flashing marquee on the theatre next door.
Harry's big heart also embraced people from around the world less fortunate than he. In the early 1960s, he and Nancy welcomed inner city youth into their suburban home though Friendly Town, an organization they co-founded and helped support; they housed a refugee fleeing Castro's regime who went on to become an ordained minister, and, in 1982, Harry mediated a conflict between the Nicaraguan and Honduran governments and rebel forces as a representative of the United Church of Christ.
Harry was preceded in death by a son, Jeff and is survived by his wife, Nancy, sons Scott (Kathleen) and Brent (Diana), and six grandsons, Craigen, Chris, Kevin, Garrison, Scotty and Jimmy. The family wishes to extend heartfelt thanks to the staff and management at Beechtree Care Center for the loving, gentle and genuine care you've shown Harry during the last years of his life.
Harry, Dad, we miss you terribly, love you deeply, and thank you completely.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution to Beechtree Care Center with a notation "in memory of Harry Katzmann", 318 S Albany Street, Ithaca, NY 14850.
Lansing Funeral Home
32 Auburn Road Lansing, NY 14882
Published in Ithaca Journal from Jan. 25 to Jan. 28, 2014