What year do you think the following appeared in PCT? “There is a continuum in the pest control industry. At one end are the ‘baseboard jockeys’ who treat every account the same way. On the other end, there are ‘the people who identify the problem, seek out the habitat of each creature and then render it useless to the pest in some way — not just with chemical, but by closing up holes, getting rid of dirt or water, creating an environment that makes it difficult for the pest to live. They go after the source, they don’t just treat the symptom.’”
Ten years ago? Five? To me, it sounds like something those in-the-know say currently.
Harry Katz said these words in 1990. But they could have been said yesterday. Harry was always ahead of his time and our staff was sad to hear of his passing last month at age 101.
When I began my career at PCT in 1998, one of my first tasks was to work with our monthly columnists. At the time, Harrry’s column, “Myth Conceptions” had been running in PCT for almost 20 years. The column was his outlet for taking standard operating procedures (SOPs) to task. SOPs have been a “common problem from the beginning of the industry, with alumnus learning from alumnus” without challenging the system or exploring other options, he once said.
Although I hadn’t spoken to Harry recently, his name still came up around the office occasionally. Every so often a reader would call asking for his contact information. But most frequently we were updated by Stoy Hedges, Harry’s longtime friend and colleague. The two would catch up from time to time and last year Stoy sent us the photo below in honor of Harry’s 100th birthday.
In these pages and online, PCT is proud to honor Harry’s legacy by promoting progressive pest management education and, when necessary, questioning the status quo.
What follows are some memories Harry’s colleagues shared with us about him:
“I met Harry Katz about 30 years ago at a conference. I had read his Myth Conceptions column in PCT and introduced myself. At the time, I was a nobody in the industry but Harry took the time to answer my questions and ask his own to get to know me. After a while, chats at conferences led to sharing ideas over lunch or dinner at various conferences and then to a lifetime friendship. Harry was Arnold Mallis’ best friend, so when I took on the duties of editorial director for the Mallis Handbook, I looked to Harry for guidance and he expressed confidence that I would do the job well. After the 8th Edition was published, Harry called me to tell me that Arnold would’ve been thrilled with the results and to tell me ‘good job.’ Harry’s approval meant the world to me. Whenever I was in South Florida, I would take time to visit Harry at his apartment in Deerfield Beach, and he was always happy for the visits. We talked regularly on the phone and Harry would send me articles and books that had been owned by Arnold Mallis as he sorted through his cluttered library at his home. Many of the older publications are in German.” — Stoy Hedges, Stoy Pest Consulting
“I always enjoyed my chats with Harry about everything from termites to bed bugs. One of the very first columns I read each month in PCT was Harry’s. I’ll never forget seeing him at conventions with his trusty backpack vacuum — the first to champion vacuums to our industry. Such a kind and thoughtful person, self-made and self-taught.” — University of Kentucky Entomology Professor Dr. Michael Potter
“When I think about Harry, words like engaging, thought-provoking, dedicated, knowledgeable and encouraging come to mind. He truly loved our industry and always wanted to see it move forward. He gave a lot and asked for very little. We will miss this gentleman and this very gentle person.” — Purdue University Entomology Professor Gary Bennett
The author is editor of PCT magazine.