A memorial service will be held Sunday, Jan. 25, for Julian Katz, 77, of Gladwyne, a leading gastroenterologist, author, and educator.

The event is planned for 11 a.m. at Temple Beth Zion-Beth Israel, 300 S. 18th St.

Dr. Katz died Wednesday, Nov. 5, of respiratory failure at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Katz did some of the early work to define the condition now known as lactose intolerance, which interferes with digestion in some people. He also was one of the first gastroenterologists to perform endoscopies in the Mid-Atlantic region.

For a half-century, Dr. Katz was known as "a caring physician, prominent scholar, and brilliant diagnostician," his family said in a tribute.

Born in the Bronx in New York City, he grew up in Jersey City, N.J., above his parents' clothing store. To pay for his education at Columbia University, Dr. Katz waited tables in the Catskill Mountains.

Dr. Katz earned his medical degree and served an internship in medicine at the University of Chicago.

It was while there that he met Sheila Moriber, soon to become Sheila Katz.

When Dr. Katz approached her in the library, she rebuffed him three times. "I was so focused on my studies that I said no," she said. "But after the third time, I chased him down the hallway and said, 'I'll take that cup of coffee.' " Within four weeks, the two were engaged. They were married for 51 years.

After completing a residency in internal medicine at Duke University and a fellowship in gastroenterology at Yale University, Dr. Katz joined the Navy, where he rose to the rank of lieutenant commander.

He arrived in Philadelphia in 1969 as a young physician and developed a small solo practice into one of the largest private gastroenterology practices in the state. Some of his original patients stayed with him for many years.

Dr. Katz was a clinical professor at the Medical College of Pennsylvania and, later, Drexel University. He trained generations of medical students.

He was a prolific author, editor of multiple textbooks, and the editor of numerous reviews in print and online.

Dr. Katz was president of the Philadelphia County Medical Society and the Pennsylvania Society of Gastroenterology, and a member of the Philadelphia Board of Health.

After retiring, Dr. Katz focused on traveling and spending time with his family.

He enjoyed participating in sports throughout his life and was a devoted fan of Philadelphia sports teams.

Dr. Katz had a joke for every occasion and was a wonderful husband, father, and grandfather, his family said.

"He treated everyone with respect, no matter who they were," said his son, Jonathan P. "He also was a real thinker, someone who enjoyed knowing and learning. He watched Jeopardy! every night, and loved reading, and discussing, and debating."

Surviving, besides his wife and son, are a daughter, Sara Katz Ward, and six grandchildren.

Contributions may be made to the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, payable to University of Chicago Medicine and sent to University of Chicago Gift and Record Services, Julian Katz Memorial, 5235 S. Harper Court, Chicago, Ill. 60615. The memorial is a scholarship fund.

bcook@phillynews.com

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