WINTER PARK, FLA. – After a three-year relentless battle against pancreatic cancer, Marcia Katz, M.D. died in the early hours of March 26, 2023. She died as she lived – fiercely smiling, wearing her signature blue glasses, surrounded by family, mouthing the words to James Taylor songs.
Although she entered the world just five minutes behind her identical twin, Debbie, Marcia forged her own path. Born to Trudy and the late Jerome Katz, of Cranston, Marcia spent her early years exploring the flora and fauna of Roger Williams Park, which sparked her love for all things plant and animal.
In fourth grade, a friend accidentally knocked out Marcia’s two front teeth with a baseball bat. Marcia’s response was to pick up the teeth and tell her not to worry about it. This was the beginning of Marcia’s lifetime commitment to caring for others with limitless compassion.
After graduating at the top of her class at Cranston West, Marcia matriculated at Brown University, where she fostered joyous community and friendships that endure beyond her life. Having graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology, Marcia began her medical education at Boston University School of Medicine. She then completed an Internal Medicine residency at Boston City Hospital, followed by a Pulmonary and Critical Care fellowship at BU’s Pulmonary Center.
Throughout her career, Marcia strove to reach new heights, and at 4’9,” her five-inch heels helped her do so. She served as Baylor College of Medicine’s Associate Chair of Medicine for Clinical Affairs and Medical Director of the Department of Medicine. In addition, she was the Chief of Adult Medicine at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women and spearheaded the development of Baylor’s Lung Institute.
Marcia’s impact on the Cystic Fibrosis community is unsurpassed. She was the Medical Director of the Baylor Maconda Brown O’Connor Adult CF Center and sat on the Center Committee of the CF Foundation, the governing body of CF center accreditation. She also served as the co-principal investigator of the CF Therapeutic Development Center
In 2016, Marcia left Houston to live among a more colorful flora and fauna – the peacocks and turtles of Winter Park, Florida. After a nationwide search, Marcia was hired as the Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs at University of Central Florida College of Medicine. During her time at UCF, she worked closely with UCF hospitals and the community to build an academic clinical service system that will benefit patients and students for years to come. When Marcia retired in 2020 to spend time with her family and travel the world, she earned the title of UCF Professor Emerita.
Among Dr. Katz’s innumerable accomplishments, her most treasured accolades come from her patients, who credit her clinical excellence, boundless encouragement and unwavering advocacy for their ability to live longer and healthier lives, raise families and achieve their dreams. Since Marcia’s diagnosis, countless patients have reached out to express their gratitude to Marcia for saving their lives. In 2012, Marcia was awarded the Ben and Margaret Love Foundation Bobby R. Alford Award for Academic Clinical Professionalism, Baylor’s highest award given to a medical school faculty member, recognizing her outstanding humanism.
While working as a full-time physician, Marcia was also a full-time mom to her two daughters, Becca and Jess. She never missed a weekly Kabbalat Shabbat sing-along or the opportunity to take her girls shopping. On their car rides home, they blasted Shania Twain and Gloria Estefan, belting out the words while laughing hysterically. Marcia did everything for her daughters. She loved them unconditionally and infinitely. As Marcia faced cancer, Becca and Jess were by her side, laughing at her dark humor, hugging her tightly and exploring the flora and fauna of the world.
Marcia faced cancer without missing a beat. She continued to travel the world with her husband, Asher, visiting Rwanda, Botswana and Namibia, to name a few destinations. She took a bike and river cruise on the Rhine with her twin sister, Debbie, and some of her best friends. On that trip she biked over 100 miles and made it look easy.
Marcia Katz squeezed the life out of every moment. During the last few years, she became an avid gardener and birder. Her happiest days were spent watching the cardinals living in her bougainvillea and harvesting her luscious tomato plants.
Before she passed, while wearing her red shirt that says “Optimist,” Marcia instructed her family to reserve energy only for love and positivity. Honoring Marcia means living with unconditional love. It means, in her words, forging ahead, blue glasses and five-inch-high heels in toe. The world will never be the same without Marcia, but her unflinching ruach (spirit) will live on forever.
Marcia is survived by her daughters, Becca and Jess Wolinsky; mother, Trudy Katz; twin, Debra Katz; sisters, Elyse and Michelle Katz; husband, Asher Aremband; nephew, Sammy Bienenstock; brothers-in-law, Michael Bienenstock and James Darrish; step-daughters, Lisa Blumenband and Jody Aremband; and grand-cat, Tushi.
Contributions may be made to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, 1500 Rosecrans Ave., Suite 200, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266 (www.pancan.org) or Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, 4550 Montgomery Ave., Suite 1100 N, Bethesda, MD 20814 (www.cff.org).