Manfred Katz 1929-2018

It is with a very heavy heart that I report that my third cousin, once removed Manfred “Fred” Katz passed away on June 28, 2018, at the age of 89. Some of you will recall the story that Fred generously shared with me about his boyhood in Jesberg, Germany, and how when he was only nine years old, he rescued a Torah scroll from the Jesberg synagogue in the aftermath of Kristallnacht in November, 1938. His family left Germany the following month, joining Fred’s older brothers and many cousins in Stillwater, Oklahoma. You can read Fred’s story here if you missed it.

Fred Katz, c. 1936
Courtesy of the family of Fred Katz

I was very privileged to have an opportunity to talk to Fred at length on the phone shortly before our trip to Germany in the spring of 2017. He not only shared his story—he gave me some advice on what to see and look for while in Germany. We also emailed several times before and after our trip. In fact, we emailed back and forth as recently as April, 2018, about a book that is being written in Germany about the Jews of Jesberg. I am so very sad to know that that was my last exchange with my cousin Fred.

Below is the obituary published on June 30, 2018, in the Wilmington, Delaware News Journal. It fills in the story of Fred’s life after he came to the United States as a young boy of nine in 1938. It is as remarkable as the story of his first nine years.

29 thoughts on “Manfred Katz 1929-2018

  1. Although I did not know him, met him maybe once or twice, I knew him through his brother, our Uncle Walter, and the wonderful way everyone always spoke of him. Baruch Dayan HaEmet. Ester also wrote about his passing, so I know his name will live.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I saw Ester’s post as well. He was obviously well-loved and well-regarded by all who knew him. I wish I’d had a chance to know him longer, but I feel so blessed that I had the chance at all. Thank goodness for genealogy.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My heart-felt condolences to you and your family on the passing of Manfred Katz! I read his obituary, which tells in great detail about his life, his studies in chemistry, his illustrious career with Dupont, his devoted and loving care for the family and dedication to his faith. Were you able to attend his funeral? Best wishes! Peter

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was very sorry to hear this news.

    Altho I did not know Fred, I grew up in Wichita with Walter and his wife Barbara, and knew Max pretty well too as my grandparents lived in nearby Tulsa, Oklahoma.

    I wonder if the name Aron and Julchen (Julie) Jungheim / Youngheim / Younghem has ever come up in your research. My paternal grandmother, Helene geb. Jungheim, was related to both the Katz’s and to Aron. Jake Katz brought 17 year old Helene to Stillwater in 1912 to work in his department store for what was intended to be a two year stint. She was waylaid by WWI and then married my grandfather in 1917. Ben and Helene were married in Jake’s mansion.

    Being “stuck” in the US became fortuitous for the family. When the Nazi’s rose to power, Helene was able to save all of her siblings with the additional help of affidavits of support from Jake and others.

    Oddly, a family of second cousins were not saved. Aron and Julchen were killed during the Holocaust. Only recently was I able to trace the daughters of this couple — Erna and Marianne Jungheim — who were sent to England on the Kindertransport.

    Marianne had died in the UK by the time I “found” her. Younger sister Erna had married a US serviceman and moved to the US. With her she brought copies of urgent letters written by Aron and Julchen. I now have those letters and have translated most of them. They mention Jake Katz as a potential source of help to get out of Germany, so I thought maybe there would be a connection.

    Thanks for the informative blog you’ve written. I enjoy every episode.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Nathan, thank you so much for reading and for your kind words. I am, of course, familiar with some of the Jungheim/Youngheim family since Sprinzchen Jungheim married Meier Katz, the father of Jake, Aron, Isaac, Karl, and Regina. I know that Walter worked with his Jungheim family in Kansas and that Jake also originally worked with some Jungheim relatives. However, I am not sure whether I have the couple you mentioned. I know Sprinzchen’s father was also named Aron Jungheim, so I assume that the Aron you wrote about was named for him. I have names for many of Sprinzchen’s siblings, and one of them (Charles/Kalman) had a son Aron born in 1881 who died in 1957–is that the same Aaron? Who were Helen’s parents? Thank you for sharing your story. You may also know my fellow blogger and friend Ellen Portnoy; Walter was her uncle through his marriage to her aunt Barbara Mattassarin. And I am also in touch with Walter and Barbara’s daughter Ester.


  4. I am so sorry for your loss, Amy, but also so happy that you were able to connect with Fred over the years. I’m sure it meant a lot to both of you – your blog is even mentioned in the obituary!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am sorry to hear such sad news. I recall reading about him in your blog. You have done a wonderful thing in telling and sharing his story. Your search for your family’s history has given us (your readers) much enjoyment and for you a true blessing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Amy,

    My Grandad passed away when I was away at summer camp. Because his gravestone unveiling in in a few months, I have been thinking about him a lot lately. This homage to him is truley amazing. Thank you so much for portraying him in such a wonderful light – for he was a fantastic and amazing man.

    Much love and thanks,

    Sophie Katz

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello, dear Sophie—I was so honored to get to speak with your grandfather on the phone and exchange emails as well. He was indeed an amazing man. And getting to know you and your parents has been a true pleasure. I am so glad you liked the blog post. Hope to see you all again soon. Love,


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