Dr. Irving G. Katz, Pikesville dentist

September 26, 1994|By Consella A. Lee | Consella A. Lee,Sun Staff Writer

Irving G. Katz, a longtime Pikesville dentist known for his skills and for the gentle way he conducted his practice and his life, died Thursday of lung cancer at his Baltimore home. He was 76.

He grew up in Ellenville, N.Y., a small town in the Catskill Mountains. His father, an Orthodox rabbi, came from a long line ** of Eastern European rabbinical leaders.

As young Irving Katz studied the Talmud, the Jewish book of laws, his father sensed that the family was on the verge of strengthening a tradition by producing yet another rabbi.

But he had other ideas, daughter Jane Katz Creighton said yesterday.

He talked to his mother, who replied, "If you don't want to be a rabbi, I'll handle it. But you are going to become a dentist." And he did, heading to the University of Maryland dental school in 1938.

A Navy dentist during World War II, Dr. Katz was stationed in the South Pacific's Admiralty Islands. Communications were censored, but Dr. Katz kept relatives informed about his whereabouts through a primitive code in his letters. If a letter included a colon in the greeting, rather than a comma, readers knew to use the code to find the latitude and longitude of his location, a relative recalled.

After the war, Dr. Katz and his wife, the former Shirley Feldman, settled in Pikesville. They reared two children, Dr. Robert S. Katz, a Chicago physician, and Mrs. Creighton, a magazine publisher in Washington.

Dr. Katz practiced dentistry in Pikesville, at 808 Reisterstown Road for nearly 45 years. For a time, the address also was his family's home. Relatives said he was known as a good listener who enjoyed helping his patients. He was quick to smile and thank someone for the smallest favors, they said.

After he retired, he and his wife split their time between Palm Beach, Fla., and Baltimore where he was a longtime member of the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation.

Dr. Katz' illness was diagnosed two years ago. He died where he spent the last few days of his life -- at home surrounded by loved ones at the St. James condominiums in Baltimore.

Services for Mr. Katz were held yesterday at Sol Levinson & Bros.

Surviving, in addition to his wife and children, are a brother, Dr. Hyman Katz of Macon, Ga.; and seven grandchildren.

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