Gerald M. Katz, who traded a megafirm partnership for one with eight lawyers that grew into a regional powerhouse, passed away Monday at age 76.
Katz was working full-time at Pessin Katz Law P.A. until last Friday, said Drake Zaharris, managing director of the firm.
“It was very unexpected,” Zaharris said. “He left the office on Friday to fly to Puerto Rico for a wedding, was taken ill and flew back on Saturday.” Initial reports were that he was doing fine, Zaharris said, but his condition worsened over the weekend and he died Monday morning.
The firm, which now has 53 attorneys in Towson, Bel Air and Columbia, will be closed on Wednesday in Katz’s honor. Services will be held that afternoon at 1 at Sol Levinson & Bros. Inc. on Reisterstown Road.
Zaharris and the other members of the Business group will handle Katz’s cases, Zaharris said.
“Everyone respected him for his expertise,” Zaharris said. “Even in complicated cases, he never made enemies. He found a way to make it work.”
Katz, a CPA as well as a lawyer, earned his B.S. in accounting from the University of Delaware in 1959 and his J.D. from Georgetown Law Center in 1963. He practiced for more than 20 years at Venable LLP, where he headed the firm’s Tax Group, before adding his name to the letterhead at Hodes, Ulman, Pessin & Katz in 1992.
“He was the ninth lawyer in the firm, and another lawyer he brought with him made it 10,” Zaharris said. Also accompanying him from Venable was a paralegal, Susan McKee Woodin, who is still at the firm.
Katz “was the beloved husband of Suzanne Katz (nee Sayer); loving father of Neil (Bonnie) Katz, Alise (Tor) Alden, and Michael Katz; devoted brother of Barbara (late John) Donaghy and the late Gordon Katz; beloved brother-in-law of Dale Sayer; and loving grandfather of Alex Alden, Kelsey Alden, Jordan Katz and Alyson Katz,” the firm said in a statement.
“I don’t know if words can express how sad we are over the loss of such a dear friend, mentor and leader of our firm,” Zaharris said in the statement. “Jerry’s passing is a huge loss for our firm, but his leadership legacy will help guide us through this difficult time.”