Alumnus’ “wonderful life” motivates scholarship gift

The gift that Fred Katz, D.O.’66, FAOCR, recently made to the Purple & Proud Campaign to establish an endowed scholarship fund at DMU is the latest in a long list of contributions he has made throughout his career and life. How he came to support his medical alma mater first began as an act of friendship: Dr. Katz and Terry Schwartz, D.O.’66, best friends since they were 17, graduated from pharmacy school but realized they didn’t want to become pharmacists. Dr. Schwartz decided to apply to the College of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery, now DMU, and persuaded his friend to do the same.

“I thought that wasn’t for me because I couldn’t stand the sight of blood,” Dr. Katz says. “Because of Terry, I ended up going to DMU. I applied only to one medical school. It was a miracle I was accepted.”

That “miracle” generated many positive ripple effects. During Dr. Katz’s rotation at the former Des Moines General Hospital, Harvey Bridenstine, D.O.’39, found that the young man had a knack for reading medical images and encouraged him to consider going into radiology. Dr. Katz went on to serve his country during the Vietnam War, helping meet a critical shortage of the specialty in the military at the time. He served as chief of radiology at the 17th Field Hospital in An Khe and volunteered at a local clinic operated by the First Air Calvary and at Holy Family Hospital in Qui Nhon.

Fred Katz served as chief of radiology at a field hospital during the Vietnam War.

As one of the first doctors of osteopathic medicine to be accepted by the military as commissioned medical officers rather than as medics, Dr. Katz also helped show his colleagues and the world that D.O.s are as competent and well trained as allopathic physicians. He was awarded the Bronze Star and an Army Commendation Medal for exemplary service, retiring as an Army captain.

“In the Army, I was meeting all these doctors from ‘great’ schools, but we D.O.s were just as good,” he says.

He went on to serve as chair of the board of the American Osteopathic College of Radiology (AOCR). In that role, he helped forge bonds between the organization and the American College of Radiology. An AOCR Fellow, he practiced many years and taught at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM) in Suwanee, GA, which named him the Basic Science Professor of the Year in 2007.

“What I liked about teaching was spending time with students,” he says. As a member of PCOM’s admissions committee, he also saw first-hand “all the hoops students have to overcome” and the significant debt many take on. That insight and his gratitude to DMU motivated him to establish the Doris and Fred N. Katz, D.O., FAOCR, Endowed Scholarship Fund. Once fully funded, it will support fourth-year students in the College of Osteopathic Medicine, with preference given to students interested in radiology.

Dr. Katz also made an additional gift to the scholarship fund through his estate. With his support, he became a member of DMU’s Founders Society, which recognizes donors for cumulative lifetime gifts of $100,000 and more, and the Legacy Society, which honors donors who make planned gifts or bequests to the University.

Attending his 50-year DMU class reunion in 2016 helped inspire Dr. Katz, a longtime philanthropist, to contribute so generously to the University. His friend Dr. Schwartz also was among the attendees that year.

Laurence Baker, Terry Schwartz, Fred Katz, Michael Stein and Alan Rose, members of the Class of 1966 who deployed as physicians during the Vietnam War, celebrated their longtime friendships and shared memories during the 2016 DMU Alumni Reunion.

“Members of my class were my best buddies. After the reunion, I had a very good feeling about the school and was very proud of it,” he says. “I have been afforded a wonderful life because of the decision to attend DMU. I will be forever grateful.”

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