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Sunday, April 6, 2014
You would never know
About two weeks ago, a colleague at work passed away. I had worked a mere 3 doors down from him for over 8 years, yet i hardly knew him. He was a very private man. But he was also brilliant. He held patents and countless awards. He was slow and methodical to give an answer, yet still always had it. He was an electrical engineer with me at Aerospace, and his career there spans for over 47 years. We worked on a number of projects together. He was an analog and high-voltage power supply expert. But he also had a very good understanding of the highly advanced physics principles that were happening behind the scenes. These specific disciplines take decades to master, and a master he was. Whenever another engineer had a problem they couldn't solve, the last resort was always to ask "the sage." Never did one of his circuits fail; they started up each and every time, without a hitch. Deadlines weren't important to him; details were. He might miss a meeting or two, but his brilliance never missed a beat.

He is one of those people with so much knowledge, that you wonder how you could ever replace that person. Too many were the opportunities i allowed to passed by to talk about a project or discuss an approach in a design. I thought that he was simply private. What he was humble. He never gloated or bragged, regardless of intellectual power he had over an entire room full of engineers. I didn't know much about his private life outside of work. He loved his cigars, and was always smoking them outside the building. I imagined him going home to his wife, and sitting down in a recliner, reading the paper, and puffing away at his cigar, not having much else to do. What i found out tonight was astounding.

I was invited to a memorial service and tribute honoring this man. I attended.
It was in a Jewish Chabad, which is a place to meet and worship. I always knew he was Jewish; i just didn't know how much. VERY, is the answer.
It turns out that he was pretty much one of two leaders of the entire Jewish community in the south bay. He has 2 children and 11 grandchildren. He is incredibly involved in the Jewish Chabad here, and teaches numerous classes on the Torah. He help found two other locations in the south bay as well. He was well liked and highly respected.
And pretty much NO ONE from this vast pool of people knew anything about his work. He refused to talk about what he did. He refused to talk about his successes, the 250+ rockets, satellites, ground and airborne instruments that he had a hand in designing, all of which could fill volumes. In a word, Humble. I am blessed to have know him from the other side of the looking glass.

He was a good man.

His name is Norman Katz.

And he will be missed.

Rest in peace, my friend.

. . . = = COMMENTS = = . . .

Bomb  posted on  Monday, April 7, 2014

Sounds like a man to know, respect and emulate. Each of us is a wonder with mysteries, knowledge and pieces to us that only some will know. Maybe these deaths that sadden us and make us wish we had known someone more deeply are teachings for how to reach out and live in the future. I am sorry for the loss of your respected colleague Mark. I hope you pass your good tribute on to his family.

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