Frances J. Rowe Katz
1920 - 2020
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Frances Rowe Katz

Born: July 25, 1920; in St. Louis. MO

Died: May 10, 2020; in DeKalb, IL

Frances Katz of DeKalb, Illinois passed away peacefully from natural causes on Mother's Day, May 10, 2020 at Oak Crest, DeKalb Area Retirement Center, just shy of her 100th birthday.

Frances Juliette Rowe Katz was born on July 25, 1920 to Maude (Klein) Rowe and Herbert B. Rowe in St. Louis. Missouri. The family established themselves in the St. Louis area after immigrating from Germany and Austria in the 1840's. They entered the United States via New Orleans and proceeded up the Mississippi River to St. Louis by paddle wheeler.

Mrs. Katz was raised in an artistic and educated family where both parents were university graduates. Her father, Herbert, graduated from the University of Illinois School of Agriculture in Champaign-Urbana; while her mother, Maude, graduated from Washington University, School of Fine Arts, in St. Louis. While growing up, Mrs. Katz enjoyed the outdoor life, participating in many activities including Girl Scouts of America. As an adult, she established a Girl Scout troop at MacMurray School on the campus of NIU.

She recently recalled: "I spent my first few years with my parents on my grandfather's farm at Clifton Terrace, Godfrey, Illinois. The large, beautiful two-story stone house built during the Civil War era was situated on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River. My parents were married on August 19, 1919 and began their life together there before I was born. My grandparents purchased the farm which had two substantial homes plus several smaller ones for families that helped on the farm. The area was hilly, rocky, and very scenic. We lived in one of the larger homes. My father decided that we needed the convenience of electricity indoors, a rarity in rural areas at that time, so he himself proceeded to put up poles and glass conductors and wire for miles and miles so that we could have electricity. That meant electric lights replaced the kerosene lamps that were used for indoor lighting (and needed daily cleaning).

The original owners had built the house with stone blocks about a foot thick and the fireplaces were used for warmth, which meant the rooms had a smoky and mysterious atmosphere. Although I was only three or four years old when we left the farm and moved to Granite City, Illinois, to this day that aroma is still vivid in my memory. Among the furnishings in the house were authentic Indian baskets and rugs, and tanned hide covered chairs. When we lived in this house, my Dad had a number of beehives, perhaps twelve or fifteen. He wore protective gear, but had no fear of being stung and seldom was. It was I who attracted the bees and once was stung on the head. I still recall the pain and how upset my mother was. The house was destroyed by fire in 1928."

While enrolled at the University of Illinois, Mrs. Katz became a member of the national social sorority Alpha Epsilon Phi. After graduating from the University at age 20 in 1941, she came to DeKalb as the bride of Mr. Raymond Katz who had graduated from Illinois a year earlier. Life in DeKalb began with new friends and new experiences until World War II became a reality. Her young husband enlisted in the United States Army in 1942. After training at various Army posts, he was sent to Europe and joined the fighting, leaving behind his wife and baby daughter (who was born in an Army hospital in Oceanport, New Jersey in October 1943). Returning to DeKalb after Mr. Katz' deployment, Mrs. Katz had many new experiences including taking Red Cross first aid classes, which was helpful at the time with the influx of the wounded and was considered patriotic as well.

It was in Aachen, Germany where Mr. Katz was twice wounded, the second time so severely that he eventually returned to the U.S. on a hospital ship and then by special train to a military hospital in Galesburg, Illinois. Finally allowed to have visitors, Mrs. Katz and infant daughter as well as the soldier's parents, Mr. and Mrs. David Katz, made the first of many trips to Galesburg. When their soldier was well enough, he continued his recuperation at home. Mr. Katz was awarded the Purple Heart with Oak Leaf Cluster.

As time passed and with the War's conclusion and her husband able to work again, Mrs. Katz devoted herself to raising her growing family as well as participating in community activities and clubs in which she was interested, many of which continue to this day. She was active in Girl and Boy Scouts, Ellwood House, KCC Ladies Golf League, YMCA, DeKalb Drama Club, Sycamore-DeKalb Panhellenic Society, and various PTA's. She was especially honored when asked to be one of five DeKalb women to establish the original DeKalb Public Hospital Auxiliary and that done, became its president. The Auxiliary has maintained its identity and grown through the years as the Hospital has expanded and moved from location to location until it is now part of Northwestern Medicine, and the Auxiliary an indispensable unit of the Hospital itself. Frances was an exceptional cook and baker much to the delight of her most grateful family. Her primary joy in life was her devotion to her husband, children, and grandchildren. She was truly the matriarch and center of her family.

Friendships are a blessing. This obituary would not be complete were there not mention of the thirty winters that Mrs. Katz and her husband, Raymond, spent in Costa Rica. Some of the friendships made there continue to this day. Mrs. Judy Richey, whom Frances met some 15 years ago as an I.C.U. nurse has been a devoted friend as well. A new chapter in Mrs. Katz' life was written when she moved to Oak Crest in 2016. Who could possibly have known the rejuvenation that took place with this change of circumstances. Frances thrived there in every way. Friendships of many years were renewed and new friendships were made with both residents and staff.

The tragedies of her life were the untimely death of her first-born child and only daughter, Margaret, known as Peggy, due to complications of breast cancer in 1999 and then the death of her beloved husband in 2005. Preceding Mrs. Katz in death were her parents and her younger brothers, Herbert, Robert, and Richard Rowe.

Survivors include: the children of the late Margaret Katz Bloom, Jonathan Bloom (Patty) and Douglas Bloom (Lisa), and great-grandchildren Rebecca and Matthew Bloom, and Sara Bloom; son Herbert D. Katz, his wife Mitzi and their children Angela Comiteau (Chad), Andrew, Lindsay Seldal and Derek (Tiffany) and great-grandchildren Will and Ben Comiteau, Emmie and Ari Katz, Tate Seldal, and Kaiden and Khloe Katz; son Dr. James E. Katz, his wife Kapka and their children, Rachel, Raymond, and Franchesca; and son Richard J. Katz, his wife Kathleen and their children, Brian (Haylie), Stephanie Korth (Brett), and Adam (Katherine) and great-grandchildren Evan and Aaron Katz, Emery Korth, Graison and Lucas Katz.

Words are truly inadequate to express our family's appreciation to Dr. Dhaval Thakkar for his many years of care and devotion to Mrs. Katz' well-being. Drs. Steven Glasgow, Rajeev Jain, Paul Nguyen, Jagdish Patel, and Jason Friedrichs are thanked as well for their sustaining role in her care. Frances' family is most grateful to the exceptional staff at Oak Crest, DeKalb Area Retirement Center for their remarkable acts of kindness, care, and compassion.

Due to COVID-19, private services will be at the Garden of Shalom, Fairview Cemetery in DeKalb. A celebration of Frances' life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in her memory may be sent to the Employee's Fund at Oak Crest, DeKalb Area Retirement Center. Arrangements were entrusted to: Finch Funeral Home 310 Oak St. DeKalb, IL, 60115 (815) 758-3841.

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Published in The MidWeek News on May 12, 2020.
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12 entries
May 16, 2020
What a beautiful and sweet soul. I will miss our fun conversations. She will truly be missed. Sending love and prayers for the family.
Verkler family
May 15, 2020
Our sympathy to your family.
Steven Douglas
May 14, 2020
I did not know personally Frances Katz But I do know that Frances raised a Great Family . Shy of her 100 Birthday. Sympathy and Prayers for you All.
Nedra Ericson-Huntress
May 14, 2020
It was a great joy to discover Fran at OakCrest when my husband moved his mother, Mary Fox Maxson, there in 2015. I phoned Fran right away and announced that I was Peggys friend, classmate and fellow Brownie Scout when Fran was our leader. She remembered me instantly and I was lucky enough to have several visits with her in the following years. My mother and our family thought so highly of Fran and I have missed seeing her in recent years. She was truly a great lady!
Jennifer Maxson
May 13, 2020
Our heartfelt condolences on the passing of Frances. What a wonderful legacy she's left behind. Our thoughts are with you all during this difficult time. Hugs...xoxo Sheehy Family
Sheehy Family
May 13, 2020
I am so very sorry to hear of Mrs Katz passing away. She was a good friend of my parents, Dr. Paul & Elynor Carney and sweet Peggy was one of my close High School friends. Many memories of playing with a Peggy during our Girl Scout meetings and being a bridesmaid in her wedding. Condolences to all your family. She was a delightful and wonderful woman.
Susan Mattoon
May 13, 2020
So very sorry to hear of your families loss during there unprecedented times. My thoughts & prayers are with you all.
Phyllis Mobile
May 12, 2020
Dear Richard and Herb and family. I send you all my condolences for the loss of Frances. I feel your loss.
May 12, 2020
Dear Richard and Family,

Although I never met her, she sounds like a terrific lady! She certainly had a full life. Please treasure all your good memories. God's Blessings to you all!
Randy Holle
May 12, 2020
To all the Katz family my condolences at this time of sorrow . My grandparents used to tell us about buying pots and pans from Dave Katz with his horse drawn wagon during WWI . May God Bless you all
May 11, 2020
To the Family of Frances R. Katz, I am very sorry for your loss. Being in Mrs. Katzs presence was always absolutely joyful for me. I was honored to be her friend and I will hold the memories of time spent with her close in my heart.
Judith Glew
May 11, 2020
I remember seeing Mrs. Katz when visiting my parents at Oakcrest. She was a lovely woman, and always had a smile and friendly greeting for everyone she saw. Beautiful lady, that will be missed...
Susan Willey
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