Memoriam: My friend Elkan Katz & former boss Joanne Zack

Elkan and I worked together for nearly 20 years at Kohn, Swift & Graf.  He was one of a kind, and I know people say that, but he was. A true family man, married to his wife Linda for 47 years, and just ask him about his daughter Rachel and his eyes would light up and stories of pride would roll out of his mouth. I definitely feel I watched Rachel grow up through his stories.  He was thrilled to see his daughter get married, and then to become a grandfather.  He was adventurous. For his 50th he and friends biked across Europe, then for his 60th he did it again. I loved when I would run into him all over town as he rode his bike. He loved The Reading Terminal Market and his Fitler Square neighborhood. He loved a spirited conversation,  especially about politics. He was inquisitive, opinionated, but not in a way you weren’t drawn in to his way of thinking. I loved that in his house he had a giant board with interesting newspaper clippings. I loved how he worked part time to care for his daughter as she grew up, as Linda had a job that would make a difference in the world he would say.

Nearly every morning Elkan would stop by my desk and we would talk about life, politics, the latest photos we had taken. He would tell me about the letters he wrote to the Editors that week, and which were published. No doubt the Philadelphia Inquirer has a folder on him. His letters were always well thought out and intriguing, although he could be a little stubborn sometimes you’d never know it as he was such a warm and caring guy.

From Elkan’s blog 9/2/11 –

” In 1976, after Jimmy Carter and Fritz Mondale won the election, the
Philly Daily News had the headline,”It’s Grits and Fritz.”  After Carter
announced his lousy choices for his cabinet a month or so later, I
wrote to the editor suggesting that their next headline should be, “It’s
Grits, Fritz and Shits.”

Other times, especially in the afternoon, I would go into his office and look at his gigantic map of Martha’s Vineyard and ask him about the different areas of the island. He’d tell me fun stories, and I’d miss him when he would take his three week vacation to the Cape every August.

I saw him a few months after I left Kohn, Swift. It was a random chance meeting. It was Easter (4/24/11), I had just gone to the Easter Parade on South Street and was running late to go to my sisters for the day. I ran into Linda Katz at 18th & Walnut. She said Elkan is in the park (Rittenhouse Square), he needs to tell you something.  He loved sitting in the park. For his 60th birthday his family bought him the bench, and I would catch him sitting on it. When it was occupied, he would sit as close to it and then wait for it to open.

We often planned to sit at the bench again, and as is the case I was always too busy. We did chat briefly a month ago, but I had no idea how close the time would come that our plans to sit in the park would never happen. 

I think I’ll go sit on his bench, think about my friend and say a prayer for his family.

“If you walk diagonally
through the park from 18th & Walnut and take the right side of the
diagonal towards the center, I’m the 5th bench on the right side, next
to a trash can.”

Elkan kept a blog for the past year or so (he was one of my biggest fans and always encouraged me and sent me notes.), and I would catch up on his blog every couple weeks or so… I guess I missed September. That sucks, but Elkan would understand, he had a well of compassion and understanding. Elkan’s Blog

Elkan’s Obituary

  Earlier this week another attorney I worked with at Kohn, Swift & Graf died. 

Joanne Zack  passed away from Breast Cancer on October 4th 2012. In 2007, she left to form a firm with Mike Boni, who also had been at Kohn Swift.
was a lead attorney representing authors worldwide in landmark
copyright litigation against Google. Joanne had a life-long dedication
to human dignity and social justice and was named to the Pro Bono Roll
of Honor in the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania. Joanne is
survived by her husband, Michael Hartung, and her children, Benjamin and
Claire Hartung.”
She was a brilliant attorney, a devoted wife and mother. Thoughts and prayers go out to her family.