Remembering Dr. Raphael Katzen

KATZEN International, Inc. salutes the remarkable life of a great man and the founder of our company, Dr. Raphael (Ray) Katzen. Ray was the ultimate gentleman and professional. We must never forget, however, that beside every great man is a great woman. Selma Katzen worked beside Dr. Katzen for 71 years; and, Dr. Katzen was who he was, in large measure, because Selma is who she is.

In 1955, Dr. Katzen founded our company that today continues to bear his name, KATZEN International. He lived his life following three guiding principles - knowledge, truth and excellence.

Knowledge: Ray's continuous pursuit of knowledge resulted in his receiving a plethora of awards and accolades. He received the Professional Practice Award (AIChE), Personal Achievement in Chemical Engineering, and the Award of Excellence, to name a few. In 1996, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, the pinnacle of professional recognition. In 2008, an annual award was created by the Symposium on Biotechnology and Bioengineering. It is named the Dr. Raphael Katzen Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr. Katzen was, of course, the first to receive this very prestigious award in 2008 and, in 2009, was the honored guest when this award was presented to the second recipient. This is just a sampling of the many awards he received. Dr. Katzen's pursuit of knowledge spanned a lifetime; even weeks before his passing, Ray attended major scientific and industry conferences where he was quick to pose challenging questions and observations to the panelists.

Truth: Dr. Katzen believed in honesty, integrity and truthfulness in the world of engineering and business. He spoke the truth and demanded it from those around him. He fostered this commitment and built a foundation of integrity for KATZEN International.

Excellence: Dr. Katzen always demanded excellence of himself and those around him and has ingrained this spirit into our company. He focused on excellence in science, engineering and business. Excellence encompasses knowledge and truth and enabled him to build the foundation for technology innovation.

At KATZEN, we continue to follow Dr. Katzen's guiding principles today. As our founder, our mentor, our friend, Ray will be dearly missed. Our offices have been flooded with letters, emails and fond remembrances of Dr. Katzen since his passing. Following is a sampling of memories from some of his many colleagues and friends:

"Ray was one of the founding members of CFDC over 20 years ago and to say he was a pioneer in the ethanol industry - not just in the U.S., but worldwide - would be an understatement. The world has lost a great man, and our industry has lost a great visionary and leader."
Doug Durante, Executive Director, Clean Fuels Development Coalition (CFDC)

"I will spend the rest of my working life continuing down the path laid, in part, by the creativity of Ray Katzen. When I hit a snag in that path that is now increasingly challenging, I will look over my shoulder and think: 'What would Ray do?' On one of the gates at Princeton University is the statement 'To live in the hearts of those you leave behind is not to die'."
Colonel Bill Holmberg, Chairman - Biomass Coordinating Council, American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE)

"I very much appreciated and benefitted from knowing him (Ray) and Selma. His contributions to the field of engineering are legendary. When I think of Ray, I see a white-haired figure with a twinkle in his big blue eyes, dressed in a short-sleeved shirt, bolo tie, and big silver belt buckle, with Selma by his side. Selma was always there for him and he for her. He (and she) are my role models."
Dr. Sharon Shoemaker, World Renowned Scientist, Executive Director CIFAR

"Accompanied by his lovely wife, Selma, Ray was a presence at virtually every gathering of the industry, poised to question and comment, assuring the industry kept its eye on the vast potential of biofuels. Ray Katzen will be sorely missed by a grateful industry, but his legacy of technology innovation and his commitment to the future will endure."
Bob Dinneen, Chief Executive, Renewable Fuels Association (RFA)


Download Dr. Katzen's professional obituary (PDF)