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Florence Katz


1922 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Florence Katz Obituary
July 19, 1922 - May 6, 2017 The music stopped for Florence Katz who passed away surrounded by family in Santa Barbara on May 6, 2017. She was 94. "Flo" was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, to Ann and Herman Katz, immigrants from Belarus, Russia. Showing an early talent for music and the piano, she attended Julliard School of Music in New York on a full scholarship following graduation from Worcester (MA) Classical High School in 1941. After graduating from Julliard, completing a three-year Piano Performance course of study in two years, Florence joined thousands of American women by enlisting in the US Army's Women's Auxiliary Corps (WACs). Through this experience, she encountered women from all over the country and from different walks of life, some of whom would become lifetime friends whom she would frequently visit despite large geographical distances. Upon discharge from the WACs at the end of World War II, recalling the extreme hardships her family went through during the Great Depression, she vowed that she "may be hungry again, but wouldn't be cold again," and traveled by herself across the country to Los Angeles. She arrived at Union Station on a brilliantly sunny winter day and would spend the rest of her life in Southern California. Living in the Hollywood area and joining Musicians Union Local 47, Florence immersed herself in the vibrant cultural and political life of a city teeming with young people returning from active duty in the armed services. She taught piano, accompanied classical performers at live events, and participated in recording sessions at the historic Gold Star Studios. Florence studied, played, and performed on the piano her entire life, including a stage appearance at age 90 before a packed auditorium for a fundraiser held in Santa Barbara. She always insisted that Chopin be played "properly." Once established in Los Angeles, Florence's mother, sister, and other family members moved from the East Coast and became part of a tight-knit extended family that would flourish and grow alongside a rapidly growing region and state. She was devoted to her family and always took a keen interest in their daily lives and aspirations, supporting them morally and materially over the years. Her legacy includes a love and appreciation for music which she instilled in those around her. A self-described "gentle soul," she cultivated deep friendships with neighbors, friends, and work associates, from every age group and stripe, always providing a listening ear, sympathy, and wisdom. She sent all of these loved ones birthday cards unfailingly year after year. While dedicating herself to music and culture, Flo ultimately spent most of her years working as a film technician for Consolidated Film Industries. She traveled extensively including memorable trips to Alaska, Easter Island, Machu Picchu, and the Galapagos Islands. She loved nature, visiting the beach, local mountains, and Yosemite. A voracious reader, "neatnick," cultural and musical maven, a consummate Scrabble player and crossword puzzle solver, lifetime political progressive and overall sophisticate, Flo retired from full time work in 1987 and ultimately moved to Santa Barbara to be closer to family. While not religious, she had a Jewish heart and loved Yiddish and poppy seed hamentashen made with yeast dough. Her sister Mollie Siegel, brother-in-law Joseph (George) Siegel, and nephew by marriage Allan Bordofsky predeceased her. She is survived by nieces Jorgia Bordofsky, Leni Siegel, Annette Halpern (Ron), nephew Fred Siegel (Meghan), and two dozen great, and great-great-nephews and nieces.
Published in the Los Angeles Times from May 16 to May 21, 2017
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