Morris Katz

Morris Katz 12/15/1889-7/23/1928

Family- Wife: Lena; Children: Bernie, Gilbert, Helen, Evelyn, Dorothy, Albert, Maurice

Morris' surname was originally Katzergersky. At first he was a laborer, he later bought a wagon to haul produce from farm to town. Still later, he opened a grocery store in Durham's African-American neighborhood, Hayti.

Katz's marriage was arranged. Morris first met Lena when he came to her home in Norfolk, Va., to ask for her hand.

Katz was so poor he couldn't afford boots and wrapped his feet in burlap bags. The family had only one fireplace and the children all dragged their quilts to the fire in the bone-chilling winter nights.

According to Jewish historian Leonard Rogoff, Morris felt more comfortable doing business with blacks than white downtown bankers. A black contractor, a family friend, built the Katz's home.

He died in an auto accident, leaving Lena with six children and pregnant with a seventh.

Somehow, Lena Katz survived and managed to send all her children to college.