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Ronald Lewis Katz


1932 - 2017 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Ronald Lewis Katz Obituary
On May 15, 2017, the world lost a great man. Ronald Lewis Katz was born April 22, 1932 to Joseph and Belle (Charnis) Katz in Brooklyn, New York. As a child, he played both baseball and the violin. He was very good at both but baseball won out. Some of his fondest moments were spent watching the Brooklyn Dodgers play at Ebbets Field with his father. He met his first wife and the mother of his children, Gail Jacobs, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he did his undergraduate work. He obtained his M.D. from Boston University after which he specialized in anesthesiology. After a brief stint in the Public Health Service, he did his residency at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, ultimately rising to the position of Professor. His approach to medicine was always unconventional, leading him to work with non-traditional practices like hypnosis and acupuncture. He also developed medical devices in the 1960s that are still in use today. In 1973, he was tapped to become Chair of Anesthesia at U.C.L.A. and moved his family out to California. He served in that role for 19 years. Some notable accomplishments include the establishment of the Nurse Anesthesia program and a Pain Management Clinic, both still among the best in the country. Additionally, he served two terms as U.C.L.A. Medical Center Chief of Staff. After retiring from U.C.L.A., Dr. Katz was asked to take the Anesthesia Department Chairmanship at U.S.C. during a difficult time for the program. He was given five years to turn around the program but was able to do it in only two years, leaving it on solid footing as it is today. His home is adorned with awards touting everything from his teaching prowess (from former students) and his success as Chair (twice) to his generosity as a donor to his alma maters and other worthy causes. In addition to writing and editing for countless respected medical journals, he started his own magazine, Seminars in Anesthesia. He was also committed to international support, aiding hundreds of students from all over the world. Whether they stayed in the United States, enhancing domestic services, or returned to their homelands to provide top quality care, he advanced the practice of medicine worldwide, often in particularly remote and needy areas. He also participated in medical missionary work in Mexico; Armenia; Malawi, Africa; Ural Mountains, Russia and Latvia among other countries as well as supporting overseas medical volunteer programs and teaching medical care courses for disaster relief and developing countries. Dr. Katz was internationally known for his medical achievements which include his membership in the Royal College of Surgeons of England, a rarity for an American and an anesthesiologist. He was active in anesthesia professional associations all around the world. He was a popular speaker, teaching and lecturing frequently on six of the seven continents. His former residents include leaders of some of the world's most prestigious programs. As an off-shoot of his career in medicine, he spent many years consulting on and testifying as part of medical malpractice cases. Rather than focusing on either plaintiff or defense, his practice was to determine what was right and advocate for that side. He defended both healthcare professionals who had acted appropriately and patients who had been wronged. He was committed to high ethics, studying and lecturing on the topic extensively. But, if you asked him what he believed his profession was, he'd have said he was a teacher. His greatest joy was working with tomorrow's doctors, helping them become better health care providers. Until his last year of life, he worked with the residents at Harbor Hospital each week, continuing his commitment to paying it forward. With all his professional success, though, his best qualities were his quick wit, sharp mind and slightly wicked sense of humor. His loved ones, of whom there are many, will remember him most for a bright smile that encompassed his whole face and a disarming twinkle in his eyes. As committed as he was to his life's work, his interests ran far beyond medicine. He was a wily investor and helped start a very successful bank. He was an avid skier, sailor and traveler. He lived an active and robust life, taking nothing for granted. He is survived by his three children, Rick Katz (Lorna), Laura Katz Huntington (Chuck) and Maggie Katz; and many other loved ones. The world is poorer for his loss; he will be sorely missed. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research (FAER) at 1061 American Lane, Schaumburg, IL, 60173-4973, www.faer.org. To receive information on a memorial service to be held at a later date, please send an e-mail to [email protected] We will miss you, Dad!
Published in the Los Angeles Times on May 21, 2017
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