M. Richard Katz, 86, of Penn Valley and Mount Desert Island, Maine, a longtime neurosurgeon at Albert Einstein Medical Center, died Tuesday, June 27, of bladder cancer at home.
In 1969, Dr. Katz was hired to head the Department of Neurosurgery at Albert Einstein Medical Center, Northern Division. In that role, he performed brain and back surgery, and treated patients who appeared in the emergency room with traumatic injuries.
He also did surgery at Germantown and West Park Hospitals, his family said.
Always a teacher, Dr. Katz enjoyed molding residents and medical students into top-flight physicians as he worked. Throughout his career, he was a clinical instructor for Temple University’s Department of Neurosurgery. He practiced at Einstein until retiring in 2006.
Born in Kansas City, Mo., to Dr. Samuel and Frances Katz, he was reared in St. Louis, Mo., and graduated from Clayton High School there in 1947. He went on graduate from Washington University in St. Louis in 1952 and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis in 1955.
As part of his training, Dr, Katz served an internship at St. Louis University Hospital in 1956, and did a hitch as a physician in the Army. He was stationed in Texas and California before being deployed to Tokyo.
“It was right after the Korean War, an interesting time there,” said his son, Charles W. Katz. “He enjoyed Japan and the culture. He went back with my mother years later.”
After returning stateside, Dr. Katz completed a residency in neurosurgery at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which led to a position working in the neurosurgery laboratory at what is now Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis.
He left St. Louis for Syracuse University, where he served a second neurosurgery residency under Dr. Robert King, an internationally known leader in neurology. While in Syracuse, he met Carol Ann Pike, a nurse at the university hospital. They married on March 23, 1963.
Dr. Katz completed his residency in July 1963, and he and his wife moved to Zurich, Switzerland, where he performed a fellowship in microsurgery. They had many adventures while abroad, his family said.
The couple returned to St. Louis in 1964. Dr. Katz became director of neurosurgery at Jewish Hospital before it merged with Barnes Hospital. In 1969, they moved to Philadelphia.
Although as a rule Dr. Katz did not seek publicity, he was mentioned in an Associated Press story in October 1991 when he treated a Temple University baseball player severely injured in a collision with another player while trying to catch a fly ball during batting practice. The 24-year-old athlete from Japan, who was not identified, died several days after the collision. Dr. Katz told the Philadelphia Daily News that the man likely suffered a rupture of a congenital brain aneurysm.
Although medicine was his passion, Dr. Katz spent most of his free time with his family and friends. He and his wife developed a special fondness for Mount Desert Island in Maine, where they enjoyed vacations every summer. He loved to ski, sail, and hike, and was an avid baseball and hockey fan.
“He was someone anyone could talk to, always finding a common interest or connection, always having an interesting fact or story to share,” his family said.
As a father, he “always had something to challenge us with,” his son said. “He supported us, but let us find our way.”
Dr. Katz’s wife died in 2005. Besides his son, he is survived by children Dr. Stephen D. Katz and Lise K. Katz; five grandchildren; a sister; and his companion, Lucetta Strumia.
A 9 a.m. service will be held Sunday, July 2, at Beth David Reform Congregation, 1130 Vaughan Lane, Gladwyne. Interment is private.