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Donald W. Katz, 95, WWII veteran was star of 'Bagels Over Berlin' documentary

Sept. 28, 1923 — Jan. 27, 2019

About five years ago, at dinner in the home of his niece and her husband, Donald W. Katz began to tell some stories about his World War II service with the Army Air Forces.

As he described bombing the Ploesti oil fields in eastern Romania as a nose gunner on a B-24, his niece's husband, Alan Feinberg, wrote, "We were spellbound."

Feinberg's interest in recording Mr. Katz's stories for his grandchildren blossomed into "Bagels Over Berlin," a documentary about Jewish veterans of the United States Army Air Corps during World War II.

Emily Chassin, a granddaughter who interviewed Mr. Katz for a college class, said that a predominant theme of her grandfather's life was how lucky he had been. "He believed it was very important to be lucky in life," she said.

Mr. Katz, a longtime residential and commercial real estate agent in Buffalo, died Jan. 27, 2019, at his home in Lantana, Fla. He was 95.

Mr. Katz was born in his parents' Rumsey Road house on Sept. 28, 1923. He was the youngest child of Max Katz and Mollie Melzer Katz and brother of Annette, Emanuel "Manny" and Beatrice. The family home later became Calasanctius Preparatory School.

After graduating from Lafayette High School, Mr. Katz entered Ohio State University, but his education was interrupted in his first year when he enlisted in the Army Air Forces.

He flew many missions in the European theater during World War II.

After the end of the war, Mr. Katz returned to Ohio State, where he earned a bachelor's degree in business and was a member of the Jewish fraternity Zeta Beta Tau.

While at Ohio State, he met fellow student Miriam "Mimi" Deneroff. They married  on Aug. 15, 1948, in the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City, which was her hometown.

After graduation, the Katzes moved to Buffalo. Mr. Katz went into the family businesses, the  residential real estate company Don Katz Realtors, and the commercial real estate investment, development and management firm Katz & Rosing Inc. in Kenmore, Tonawanda, Buffalo and Hamburg.

The Katzes had wintered in Delray Beach, Fla., for many years, and moved there full-time around 2010, his family said.

Mr. Katz was a lifelong member of Temple Beth Zion in Buffalo.

He was a serious saltwater and freshwater fisherman, his family said, fishing on the American and Canadian sides of Lake Erie, as well as at a remote Northern Ontario lake. He was a Bimini Fishing Tournament winner for many years.

In his younger days, Mr. Katz played squash at lunch, as well as golf and tennis, and poker at least once a week for more than 60 years. He played bridge three times a week up to the end of his life. In Buffalo, his long-running bridge partners were Richard Lipsitz, Dick Melzer and Ira Melzer.

After 68 years of marriage, Mrs. Katz died in 2017.

Mr. Katz is survived by two daughters, Jody Katz Chassin and Wendy J. Katz, DDS and four grandchildren.

A funeral is planned for 11 a.m. Monday in Temple Beth Zion, 805 Delaware Ave.

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