Carolyn Falk Katz, 85, merchant and author dies in Houston

CAROLYN FALK KATZ, who along with her husband Ralph Katz, was a merchant for more than five decades in Starkville, MS,  died in Houston on Tuesday. She was 85.

Married for 57 years, she and her husband ran Katz’s Department Store, the store that was first opened by her father-in-law at the turn of the last century. The store went through several iterations, first as a mercantile establishment, later growing into a department store specializing in clothing for men and women. When it eventually closed in 1995, much of the store’s business was in the selling of bridal gowns and formal wear.

A New Orleans native, she lived in both Kosciusko and Jackson, MS, attending Milsaps College for two years before leaving to support herself following the death of her father.

When she was 65, Katz enrolled at Mississippi State in Starkville, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree with honors five years later. At 70, she is still listed as the oldest graduate in Mississippi State University history.

Katz recently enjoyed success as an author, having penned the book “The Peddler,” which was based on the life of her father, a peddler living in and around the South at the turn of the last century. She enjoyed playing contract bridge, was an inveterate piano player and volunteered for a number of civic groups including the Starkville Symphony (in which she played cello), the Starkville Symphony League and Temple B’nai Israel Sishterhood.

Following the death of her husband of 57 years in 2006, Katz  was uneasy. She moved to Houston in 2012 to live with family members there. She was living in an assisted living facility, but still found time to volunteer as a member of the Temple Sinai community there.

She is survived by her son Keith Katz (Evie), her daughters Debra Katz Pesses (Leon) and Karen Katz Westall (Tommy) and  six grandchildren.

Following visitation at Welch’s Funeral Home in Starkville, graveside services were held in the Jewish section of Friendship Cemetery in Columbus, MS, on June 28 at 11 a.m.

Shiva minyans will continue to be held at the home of Leon and Debbie Pesses in Metairie tonight, June 30, through July 2 at 7:30 p.m.

Donations can be made to the Starkville-MSU Symphony, P.O. Box 1271, Starkville, MS 39760 and Temple B’nai Israel, 717 2nd Ave North, Columbus, MS 39701.

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