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Bennett D. Katz

89, beloved husband of Edith C. Katz, died on Nov. 1, 2007 in Topsham, Maine, after a long illness. Born in Springfield, Massachusetts and raised in Boston, Katz attended Boston public schools and received a B.A. degree from Tufts College in 1940. In 1999, he received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Maine in Augusta, which he had helped to establish in the 1960's. As a major and senior pilot in the Army Air Corps during World War II, Katz saw service on every continent. After the war, as a pilot for American Overseas Airlines, he piloted one of two civilian planes to fly the Berlin Airlift, and later flew a scheduled passenger route from New York to Western Europe. In 1950, Katz and his family moved to Augusta, where he lived for over 50 years. As President of Nicolson and Ryan Jewelers (1950-1988), Katz soon became involved in the community and developed an interest in politics. A member of the Augusta City Council, chairman of the Augusta Republican Committee, and chairman of Maine's First District GOP Committee, Katz received awards for his contributions to the community from such diverse organizations as the Maine Merchant's Association (special merit award), Le Club Calumet, B'nai B'rith (Brotherhood Award), Kennebec Valley Chamber of Commerce (Business Person of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Awards), Augusta Kiwanis Club, and the Maine Teachers Association. A member of the Maine Legislature (1962-1980), Katz served for many years as Senate Majority Leader and developed nationally recognized expertise in post-secondary education, serving on the Board of Trustees of the University of Maine System, The New England Board of Higher Education (treasurer and chairman), Nellie Mae, The Education Commission of the States (treasurer), and numerous other State and national boards and commissions. In recognition of his many years of service to the University of Maine, in 1999 the UMA library was named the Bennett D. Katz Library in his honor. Survivors include Katz's wife of 64 years, Edith Colmes Katz of Topsham; daughter Joyce Katz Tapper and her husband Burt Tapper of Dayton, MD; son Roger Katz and his wife Birdie Katz of Augusta; and grandchildren Jonathan Katz and Shari Katz. He was predeceased by two brothers, Stanley Kates of Sharon, MA and Saul Katz of Mt. Pleasant, SC. A memorial service will be held at Jewett Hall, University of Maine at Augusta, on Sunday Nov. 4th at 10:30 AM. Interment will be in Maine Veteran's Memorial Cemetery, Civic Center Drive, Augusta, following the service. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Bennett and Edith Katz Fund of the University of Maine at Augusta Foundation, Temple Beth El, or a charity of choice. Arrangements are under the care of Plummer Funeral Home, 16 Pleasant Street, Augusta, Maine. Condolences to the family may be expressed via the funeral home website at www.plummerfh.com
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