Oberlin College trustee Herbert Wilhelm Gottfried Kaatz,
80, died April 14 at the Oberlin Medical Center. He lived in Grafton
and Elyria, Ohio, for most of his life and held more than 25 patents
in the marine and aviation industries.
Mr. Kaatz began his career working for the Elyria sheriff's department,
photographing crime and accident scenes. In 1939 he founded The
Photo Shop and did industrial photography for local companies.
By the time he graduated from Oberlin, he had worked for two years
at Romec Pump Company, taken night classes at Fenn College, spent
a summer studying at UCLA-Berkeley, and served a hitch in the
Navy where he was an electronic technician. In 1946 he founded
his own company, Kenco Products, in Elyria, and did consultant
engineering for a Cleveland firm. When the company later moved
to Eyria, Mr. Kaatz bought into it, and, in 1975, bought out all
the partners, later selling it to the Parker Hannifin Company.
Mr. Kaatz, himself a pilot, owned Business Connection, Inc., an
air charter service. He was a consultant and board chair for several
business firms including Airborne Manufacturing. A man with strong
civic interests, he co-chaired the Midview School District's Blue
Ribbon Committee, was advisor to the Nord Center Mental Health
Foundation, and president of the board of directors of the United
Way of Greater Lorain County.
He was past chair of the board of Union Pacific Corporation, the
firm that opened and operated The Great Wall Hotel in Bejing in
1984, and president and CEO of Tronco, Inc., a manufacturer of
heavy-duty hydraulic equipment, advanced x-ray, and ground support
From 1985 to 1995 he served on the Oberlin College board of trustees,
heading several committees. His interest in education led him
to generously support nearby Lake Ridge Academy, which he co-founded,
and the College.
Kaatz was preceded in death by his wife and leaves three sons,
six grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren.
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