Byline: Richard Duckett
WORCESTER -- May is a bittersweet month for the Katz family.
It is almost exactly 10 years since Steven J. Katz, who in midlife had returned to teaching and was a science instructor at Burncoat Middle School, was killed in a automobile and motorcycle accident in Hudson on May 12, 2005.
"The outpouring from the students was extraordinary,'' recalled Mr. Katz's wife, Joey O'Connor-Katz, of the reaction of shock, disbelief and sadness. Mr. Katz was 51. A year later Burncoat Middle School named its library the Steven Katz Library, she said. "The students read 'What Mr. Katz meant to me.' ''
And Sunday, May 3, would have been the 92nd birthday of Mr. Katz's father, Lester Katz, who ran a small chain of former IGA food markets.
"They were kind of a team in a lot of ways,'' said Nancy Katz, Steven Katz's sister and a daughter of Lester and Florence Katz, of their close relationship. Lester Katz died in 2012.
So on May 3, 2015, it seemed appropriate to honor both Lester and Steven Katz. Four stained glass panels were dedicated and gifted in their memory at the Gery and Emil Eisenberg Assisted Living Residence at 631 Salisbury St. Florence Katz now makes her home at the residence, as did her husband.
"This month is the 10th anniversary (of Steven Katz's passing) and we talked about wanting to do something,'' said Nancy Katz. On Sunday, family and friends gathered from across the country. But Ms. Katz hopes her brother's Burncoat Middle School students will also be aware of the memorial.
Steven Katz had taught earlier in his career, then worked for IGA and later at Jay Baker Corp. in Canton. He taught at Burncoat Middle School for four years. He threw himself into his work as a teacher, his wife said. It was what he loved.
"He was a perfect teacher -- he was brilliant,'' said Ms. O'Connor-Katz of Stow. "He also happened to love that age group. No one loves that age group. Not even the people who are in that age group,'' she joked. He started an after-school rocketry club, and introduced students and teachers at Burncoat to the robotics program at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Those legacies live on, his wife noted. "He was very inventive.''
Mr. Katz also liked motorcycling. His son,...