Shortly after graduating from high school in Far Rockaway, he moved south to attend the University of Mississippi, where he received his bachelor’s degree in music education, and also played in a band with Mose Allison, a famous jazz musician who is also a member of the Long Island Music Hall of Fame.
Katz received his Masters degree from SUNY Potsdam, and received his first teaching gig at a school in Lyon Mountain, New York, in 1953, a town that was renowned at the time for its iron ore industry. After spending one year there, he applied for teaching jobs in Long Island so he could move closer to his Far Rockaway Home. Katz received two job offers, one in East Meadow and one in Patchogue. “I took the East Meadow position because it was closer to my home,” he said.
In 1960, six years after accepting the position to teach at East Meadow, Katz was invited to attend an all-county concert at Uniondale High School. Needing a date for the affair, he called Gloria, whose telephone number he had received from a friend. She accepted, but was unaware that the concert was taking place in a high school, and Katz fondly remembered how Gloria had “dressed to the nines,” for the occasion. “It was a blind date,” he said, and he would go on to marry Gloria one year later.
Establishing a program
In is 40 years teaching at East Meadow High School, Katz directed the music program to great success. There were several highlights along the way, Katz recalled, including a performance at Yankee Stadium in 1959 during halftime of a New York Giants and Cleveland Browns football game. “It started to snow as we did the show,” said Katz, which included not only students from East Meadow High School, but also students from the recently built W.T. Clarke High School in Westbury.
The East Meadow band, under Katz’s direction, also performed twice on national television at Shea Stadium.
In 1964, the East Meadow band played at a recording studio at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan, as part of an educational music record created by the Belwin Mills, a music publishing company. “Those recordings went all over the world,” said Katz.