Samuel Katz, 97, passed away peacefully at home Tuesday December 29, 2020 after a long, full, and happy life.
Sam was born in Germany to Herman and Bertha Katz. The family left Germany in the Fall of 1933 just after Hitler rose to power, escaping to Belgium and then relocating to New York City. Sam attended Townsend Harris High School, the precursor of the Bronx High School of Science.
Sam graduated from the University of Michigan in 1943 with a B.S. in Physics and joined the MIT Radiation Lab, where he conducted classified research developing radar for the War effort.
Following World War II, he entered graduate school and received his PhD in Geophysics at Columbia University’s Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, where he met his future wife of 66 years, Jean. Sam’s dissertation research included deep seismic reflection profiling in the Adirondacks that revealed the depth to the Mohorovičić discontinuity, and also the discovery of a geological layer below the seafloor using seismic refraction imaging.
After their wedding, Sam and Jean moved to California where Sam worked at the Stanford Research Institute and taught at Stanford University. There, Sam conducted classified research to determine pressure - volume relationships at very high pressures generated by explosives.
Sam and Jean returned to the East Coast several years later, where Sam spent most of his career at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute as a professor in the Geology Dept. teaching courses such as Oceanography, Seismology, and Geophysics. He specialized in high pressure experiments, and built the RPI seismology station that is still in operation today.
Sam enjoyed the outdoors, hiking, bird watching, travelling and exploring nature with his wife and family. After his retirement, Sam explored many creative activities, including performing in a recorder consort and dance groups, stained glass artwork, and polishing rocks for Jean to use in her jewelry creations. Sam was a member of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Schenectady.
Sam was predeceased by his wife Jean in January 2020. Surviving are sister-in-law Helen Parker; three children David Katz (Anne Csete), Daniel Katz (Marcy Tobin), and Miriam Katz; four grandchildren, Stephen Katz (Frances Hartmann), Jeffrey Katz (Alison Knight), Sean Summer, and Prairie Summer (Andris Bjornson); and five great-grandchildren (Alyssa and Brett Summer, Cedar Bjornson, Zelda Knight Katz, and Theodore Hartmann Katz); and dear friend Jilita.
Sam’s family extends their gratitude to the people who helped care for him in his final months.
A memorial service will be held when it is safe to travel and gather.
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