November 15, 1924 to April 6, 2015
By Lily Katz
At the age of 90, Mildred Katz left this planet for someplace new. Up until the very end, she was a firecracker; joyful, sharp as a tack, and unafraid to tell it like it was. Her tenacity, independence and stubbornness inspired us all. Millie loved her family and friends unreservedly, and exuded warmth so profound that she could make people across a crowded room feel welcome.
Born in New York City in 1924 to immigrant parents from Romania and Poland, Millie was a student of the world and developed wide ranging passions, from dance and music, to politics, science and literature. A child from the Bronx, she graduated from Hunter College in 1945 with a B.A. in biology and worked as a medical technician and research assistant at several hospitals. In 1948, she earned a teaching credential and an M.A. in science education from Columbia University. One day in the library, Millie met Arnold Katz. After going on a school-sponsored ski trip together, Arnie invited her on a date. The two were married three months later, and moved to Des Moines, Iowa together.
Their daughter Teri was born in 1950, and three years later, they had their son, Dean. Millie and Arnie moved from Iowa to Ohio to Pullman, Washington, and finally to Seattle in 1956. They were smitten with the incredible beauty of Seattle as they drove across the floating bridge, and knew that the city would forever be their home. Three years after settling in the Pacific Northwest, their daughter Mira was born.
Millie worked in the lab at Children’s Hospital, and went on to receive her teaching certification for the state of Washington at the UW in 1964. She taught high school biology and numerous other science courses at Forest Ridge Convent of the Sacred Heart for 16 years, and spent the second half of her career at The Lakeside School. Her students, who have described her as “tough but fair,” stayed in touch until the very end — a testament to the tremendous impact she made as a teacher. Millie’s teaching was one of the many gifts she gave to the world, but was also a profound gift in her own life. She loved her students, who were both a joy and a challenge.
Aside from teaching, Millie’s interests ran the gamut from river rafting to reading Shakespeare. In fact, she probably read everything Shakespeare wrote at least five times. An active member of the League of Women Voters for many years, Millie also loved the Seattle Opera, the Pacific Northwest Ballet, musical performances at the UW’s Meany Hall, taking classes at the Lifetime Learning Center, her book clubs, going to movies, French Silk ice cream, and, of course, the Seattle Seahawks. An avid birdwatcher for decades, she also had a special place in her heart for elephants and marine mammals. Her life was broadened by travels to the Galapagos Islands, Cuzco, Machu Picchu, Australia, New Zealand, Tanzania, Botswana, Israel, and many other places.
Millie’s children and grandchildren were a tremendous joy in her life, and she never forgot to show her gratitude for their love and support. During her final years, she developed close friendships with her fellow University House residents whom she described as warm, welcoming and interesting. The University House staff appreciated her kindness and generosity of spirit, as well as her uncanny ability to remember everyone’s name.
Although she was ready to leave her body when she passed, Millie made sure to stick around long enough to meet her great grandson — Nolan James Kennedy — who was born the day before she passed away. Talk about the circle of life.
Her three children (Teri, Dean, and Mira-Lisa), her five grandchildren (Curran Kennedy, Noah Katz, Matthew Mass, Mike Mosko, and Lily Katz), their families as well as numerous friends and colleagues will remember Millie for her openheartedness, humor and generosity. A celebration of Millie's life will take place on Friday, May 22, 2015, at 3:00pm at the Graham Visitor Center in the Washington Park Arboretum, 2300 Arboretum Drive East, Seattle, 98112. Please sign the guestbook at www.funerals.coop
I first met Millie when I was five years old. I was lucky enough to reconnect with her and Mira-Lisa just last year. Millie you are such a treasure, you leave behind wonderful memories of a life well lived. --Barb Mroczek Donaldson
Millie was one of my teachers at FR in the 70's. Science was not my forte, but Millie made the subject interesting and applicable to every day life. I was fortunate to have experienced her as a teacher, and later as a friend. Her enthusiasm for nature was contagious, and I enjoyed hearing about birds and various woodland creatures on a camping trip we took in the 80's. Her dog was a character too. Millie kept in touch through the decades with holiday cards, and I feel blessed that she shared an evening in her most recent home with me and several alums from '76 and '79. Millie displayed great interest in people and knew how to nurture relationships. May you find comfort and healing from your loss, Teri, Dean and Mira. --Karen Campbell Wood
Dear Teri, Dean & Lisa,
I'm one of Millie's many former (Forest Ridge) students who became a friend. Some of us had tried to get together with Millie recently, but her ill health prevented a get-together. I'll remember her forever and miss her always. I hope I'll be able to attend whatever memorial service that will be held. Know that you all will be in the hearts and minds of me and all those who loved Millie. --Kim McLaren
I remember Mrs. Katz from Forest Ridge where I attended from '75 to '79. She had a heart for all of the girls at FR. She was kind, fair and yes tough. She had high expectations for us all. She gave of her time willingly too. I remember that I struggled in Biology, and she had no problem tutoring me. When I saw her picture in the paper - I was taken immediately back to those years. I remember her smile and love for teaching. I am a teacher now as well. --Ann Pneuman Marchel
Thank you for posting this nice obituary. I had Millie (Mrs. Katz to me!) as my high school biology teacher in Grade 10 in 1979. I was a slacker but not in her classes. I am sorry for your loss. --Shannon Underwood
We will miss you very much. You were such an interesting and fun friend, and we got to know you much better on the TBA trip to Israel. Really enjoyed lunchs with Rose Ann and you. --Ginny and Leonard Shulman
I will forever Love and miss you Millie.
I treasure you're friendship as always.
--Charda M. Hastings
Millie's passage has shifted my life. She was my close friend, my advisor, and my surrogate mom. I love her more than I can say and miss her terribly. --Beryl Gorbman
Millie was a warm and intellectually engaged presence at Lifetime Learning Center and will be missed by her classmates. --Alice Leiner
I try to love life like Millie did. She was so darn good at it and when you were with her, it was easy - like biology was when you were in her class, as I was at Forest Ridge. I miss her. --Mary Jenneskens
Millie was one of my teachers at Forest Ridge. She was also one of my favorite people and a dear friend. Her zest for an adventurous life was an inspiration. Her ability to love others unconditionally is a trait I try to emulate daily. I love her and will miss her always. --Louise Sullivan Sportelli
A great teacher, a wonderful woman, she inspired and lifted up generations of young women. Her words of wisdom, still resonate with me and I have shared some of them with my own girls. --Karen Eagle Zimmermann
Ms Katz kept us on our toes. What a lucky bunch of kids we were to have her at FR. I remember dissecting frogs and mostly the day I was "sick" for a test. She called me on that right away! Well done Millie thank you for a great life lesson. --Andrea Edwards Hamilton
Millie made me feel very welcome from the first moment she picked me up at Seatac airport in 1984 when I visited to attend Dean and Marian's wedding. I moved to Seattle in 1987 and the warmth and welcome continued until I last saw her at Dean and Marian's home, watching the Seahawks in the superbowl. --Ed Wachter
Mrs.Katz was beloved by ALL at Forest Ridge. She made learning fun. It is a testament to her influence that so many of us went into the Medical and Teaching Professions.
My Prayers for the Family. --Claudia Callahan Class of 1969
Mrs. Katz was an inspirational teacher to me and I loved biology and the sciences in large part due to her abilities. I have tried to pass that spirit on to my children and have been involved in STEM programs for youth as a result of her spirited love of the sciences! -- Andra Nicoli Osgood FR '78
Dear Family of Millie,
I was one of Millie's classmates at Lifetime Learning Center in Seattle and appreciated her astute comments. She was a warm and vital person and had the knack of making everyone feel special. I hope that your memories of her will bring comfort to you all. She was a special person and will be missed. --Rochelle Goldberg
I am so sorry to hear that Millie has passed. I always knew her as Mrs. Katz (as a 1969 graduate). She was a true professional and although science and math weren't my forte, I appreciate that strong foundation. My sincere condolences to the family. --Joan Mansfield-Dean
Mrs. Katz was my teacher at FRC on the hill in Seattle many moons ago - the 70's. She was always kind and fair. I feel lucky to have had her in my life as a teacher and I know that she is in Heaven. --Kitty McKeown, Class of 1972
As another one of Mrs. Katz students at FR, she taught us all so much more than 'basic science'. Along with the foundation of biology, she taught us to appreciate science, to be investigational and responsible for our own learning experience, and to be true to ourselves and our passions. As I pursued my interest in veterinary medicine, her inspiration has always stayed with me. Thank you and know she will be missed by so many. --Noella Allan-Rosher '82
I admired that lovely lady so much that I got my Natural Sciences BA in Education and was fortunate to be a student teacher in her classroom in the early 80's. Needless to say, she was my most inspirational teacher in life and I feel so fortunate to have known her.
Condolences to the family. --Lori Richardson Davies, FRC class of '79
Millie was like a second Mom to me growing up and our families spent some wonderful holidays and vacations together. I will always remember her for the strength, wisdom, and love she projected and shared. --Tandy Nemeyer (Pirofsky)
I was a neighbor of Millie's for over 30 years. She was an incrediable person to know. She was very generous, and kind and never missed a beat when you would stop and visit with her. She would always have a sincere interest in my family and how everyone was doing.I was sad when she left the neighborhood. Her perspective on life, her strength and humor, will always be in my memory. --Janet Slatt
I remember Mrs.Katz fondly. She was my science teacher at Forest Ridge. I was extremely shy about public speaking and she understood and allowed me to give my oral report to her privately, rather than struggle with a shaky voice and a red face in front of the entire class. -MaryJoy Lopez, class of 72
To all of Millie's family,
Millie was in many of my classes at L.L.C. She was a delight. Not only was she fun to be with but she contributed many valuable questions and thoughts in our classes. I'm sure that you have many wonderful memories to recall and enjoy. -Margaret S. Girtch
Millie was among our dearest friends for over 50 years. She accompanied us to operas, ballets, book club and countless other activities. She gave us a place to live for several months when we moved to Seattle in 1991. She always made us feel a part of their family. She brought so much joy and love into our lives. We will always miss her. --Morry and Faye Tolmach
I adored Mrs. Katz and her valuable lessons on biology and life. Her passion and brilliance definitely inspired me in many ways. My thoughts and prayers are with her family. --Laurie R. Boyle '82
Millie was the truest friend anyone could want. She was there for me when I gave birth to a 27 week premature baby, almost 40 years ago. I also appreciate how she took my children to the circus because I didn't want to go. Thank you, Millie. You will always have a special place in my heart. Jacqueline Chalmers
Millie, you were a joy to me while at Lakeside School. You at Upper
School and me at Middle, but when we met it was a pleasure. I loved you humor,insights, and
Most importantly, your wisdom.
Blessings Millie --Sally Parker-Henderson
Millie's effervescent personality was well-loved at University House where we shared similar apartments overlooking our beautiful garden. We shared a common love of God's birds. animals and plants. I was able to procure from an Arizona-bound resident, an ancient Jade plant to replace her 30-year-old Jade that she had to leave behind when she moved into University House Retirement facility. She and her bubbly, smiling humor will be missed.
I was so lucky to have Millie Katz as a teacher at Forest Ridge!!!! I took pretty much every class she taught. She was a great teacher, encouraging us to be observant, to appreciate the wonder of the natural world, to ask questions. She was a wonderful mentor to my budding biologist teenage self. I was also blessed to have her as a friend after having had her for a teacher. What a great example of life long learning!! What a kind friend! Thank you Millie for encouraging so many of us to love science. This world is the richer for having had you in it. The next world is now the subject of your explorations. I miss you.
--Jan Chalupny (FRC class of 1980)
Millie was indefatigable; she took each step/phase of her life with aplomb, exploring and learning about everything presented to her.
Over the 43 years we knew one another, Millie always gave to me generousity and compassion, wisdom, inspiration for me, and, I'm sure, for everyone who was a part of her world. In,fact, Millie was my truest friend who gave me unqualified love. We laughed lots and cried lots with one another. She has been a role model for teaching me of her constant passion and joy of living every moment.
Millie's greatest joy was her family. I feel so lucky and grateful to have been a small part of her life! --Judy Rosenfeld
I, too, was so lucky to have Millie Katz at Forest Ridge. She was an amazing teacher and friend to me. As everyone has said - she was tough, but fair. She was so funny, smart, interesting, and direct. I absolutely adored her. She then left to go to Lakeside where my younger brother was lucky enough to have her. She inspired me to learn more about everything that science has to offer. Thank you Ms. Katz for that! What a gift. Love to her family. --Victoria Burwell FR '82
Milli took me under her wing at Lakeside when I was first hired. She showed me the ropes and guided me through the labyrinth I met. What a kind heart! Knowledgeable and kind -- what a great combination.
So glad I found this site -- I was thinking of her (2020) and hoped I would be able to say I (miss?) appreciate all she was.
Biology & Chemistry instructor, retired.