Back to Toronto SCRABBLE® Club In Memoriam

Leah Katz

John Chew wrote in CGP:

It is with profound personal sadness that I must announce the passing in hospital of longtime Toronto Scrabble Club member Leah Katz, at 10:15 on the evening of Friday, August 17th.

Leah was a memorable player. She had a passion for the game that was unusual even at the club. When you sat down at her faded Spear board her eyes would twinkle in eager, girlish anticipation of a good game no matter who you were or what your rating was, and her high expectations of her opponents would bring out the best in them. It was always a pleasure to be able to refer visiting players looking for games to Leah's hospitality, knowing they would never go disappointed.

She was a good player, most recently qualifying to play in this year's Canadian WSC QT, winning the second division at Oshawa in 1999, and finishing in the middle of the field at the second CNSC. But I don't think it mattered much to her that she was a good player, most of the time she was too busy enjoying the game to care.

My last conversation with Leah was a telephone call from what turned out to be her deathbed. I was not surprised that it consisted of her telling me in detail how the club ought to be run; her high expectations of the people around her extended beyond the board, and I hope I will live up to them.

The funeral will be held on Sunday afternoon at Pardes Shalom Cemetery, 10953 Dufferin Street north of Major Mackenzie Drive. The precise time of the funeral will not be known until Sunday morning. I will post details to the Club #3 mailing list at, interested players may also call me at 416-876-7675 (between 10 A.M. and 10 P.M.) or Hebrew Basic Burial at 416-780-0596 (24 hours a day).

(and then in a later posting)

Leah Katz was buried this afternoon in a ceremony attended by over thirty members of the Toronto Scrabble Club together with her many other friends and family, in a plot at Pardes Shalom Cemetery not far from where former Club #3 director Mike Wise is buried.

At the funeral, an announcement was made of her family's wishes that any charitable donations in memory of Leah be made to the Humber River Regional Hospital (formerly known as the York-Finch General Hospital), 2111 Finch Avenue West, Toronto ON M3N 1N1, +1 416 747 3868.

I will be taking up a collection from Club #3 members at this week's meeting. If you would like to donate but are not able to attend, please make suitable arrangements.

Those who wish to join the family in prayer are encouraged to do so at the home of Gill and (Leah's son) Ian Katz at 40 Blue Forest Drive (south of Finch, between Dufferin and Bathurst) at 8 P.M. on Monday through Thursday this week.

Craig Rowland wrote privately:

I just got the news barely fifteen minutes ago and am still taking it in. Leah was one of my fondest player friends. I spent many afternoons at her apartment playing SOWPODS. She was always available to play the international game with me, and seemed to be delighted when I took such a swing from being an anti to a SOWPODS pro. She even came to my place on more than one occasion, always part of the SOWPODS mini-tourneys I would have here, and always the first to reply when I asked around.

Diane Brown wrote privately:

She truly was a dedicated member of our Club and an inspiration to all = those who had the opportunity to try and match her at the board.

Gene Rawlins wrote in CGP:

A deep, profound, personal loss of an elegant lady and an ardent scrabbler. Many a time and oft have I revelled in exciting scrabble rivalry with Leah. She'll be sorely missed by the entire scrabble community.

Christine Economos wrote privately:

How terribly sad! I enjoyed playing with Leah at tournaments in Toronto. I'd always be pleased when I'd discover we were paired for a game. She was so gracious, so very wonderful.

Graeme Thomas wrote in SOWPODS:

Leah was one of the kindest people I have met, and a shining example of the sort of person I want to meet when playing Scrabble. I first met her in the late 80s, when she visited London from her home in South Africa. She later moved to Toronto, and I met her several times there. One of her sons lives in London, and we used to meet occasionally when she came to visit. The Toronto Scrabble Club, which is the oldest North American club, will be the poorer for her death. We are all diminished by it.

Kevin Katz gave the following graveside eulogy:

I am going to keep this short for a couple of reasons. Firstly, that is what we do by tradition on Rosh Chodesh or the beginning of the Hebrew month. Secondly, because I think that is what my mother would have wanted. I say "I think" because I would have not presumed what she would have been thinking. My mother was an independent thinker who always had an opinion.

It was her deep thoughts and concern for other people that made her such a special person. She had a great understanding of peoples' actions and doings and as a result was very considerate. She loved to analyze and contemplate. She was always trying to figure out how people thought, to explain our actions and consider the best for the future. It was this genuine concern and wisdom that brought us all so close to her.

When I was a teenager, Leah and I would sit, late at night, at our kitchen table and talk. It was her understanding that brought our whole family, extended family and friends close. We all gained wisdom from her that is now passed on to our children. Her thoughts and ways live on in all of us. Family and friends were of utmost importance to her.

My parents, Jack and Leah, were married almost 50 years and they both must be credited for a wonderful mature relationship. She will leave a big void in my dad's life.

The scrabble community was a large part of her life. She gave a lot and received a lot from this bunch of amazing people, many of whom are here today. I cannot really say anything more eloquent than the postings on the scrabble message board which describe her delight in the game and the relationships it afforded all. You all embraced her into your lives and she touched many of you.

My Mom was diagnosed with lymphoma 25 years ago. At the time she said that all she wanted was to become a little old lady with grandchildren and see the millennium. She beat all odds and we were blessed with her presence for many years. She was so high on life that even in the last few weeks she desperately wanted to live. She enjoyed life and the people around her too much to want to die. Nevertheless the lymphoma got he better of her and we are all very sad to lose her.

I can say confidently that we all take away some of her spirit with us because of the values and ideas that she was so willing to share.

Kevin Katz
August 19, 2001.