In Memoriam: Dick Katzin, MD

Dick Katzin headshot

Prepared by Al Biglan, Frank Cignetti, Seshaiyengar Venkatesh, and family members

Dick Katzin, MD, of Oakmont, died January 4th at 89 years old. He was known as a caring and compassionate physician/ophthalmologist.

He was born in New Jersey, the only child of physician Eugene Katzin and his wife Ethel. He graduated from Cornell University and Cornell University Medical School, where he met his wife, Loretta. Loretta predeceased him; they were married for 64 years. Dr. Katzin served in the United States Marine Corps as a first Lieutenant in Quantico, VA, and Camp Lejeune in NC.

Dr. Katzin completed his residency in ophthalmology at the Eye and Ear Hospital in Pittsburgh chaired by Murray McCaslin and later by Ken Richardson. He completed the training program in 1969 and joined the Department staff as a comprehensive ophthalmologist.

When Dr. Richardson left for Alaska in 1972, Dr. Katzin was appointed as Interim Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh and served in this capacity until 1974.

While serving in the Department, he helped train residents, many of whom went on to practice in the community. He staffed clinics and was a preceptor for surgery at Eye and Ear Hospital and at the Veterans Hospital (VA) in Oakland.

As Assistant Chief from 1969 – 1980, Dr. Katzin staffed ophthalmology residents in the ophthalmology clinic at the VA and was a surgical tutor. In 1980 when Dr Lehman retired, Dr. Katzin assumed the position of Department Chair of the ophthalmology division of the Department of Surgery at the VA and served in that capacity until 1999. He then served as a consultant until 2023. He worked 55 years providing quality ophthalmologic care for the veterans in our country.

Dr. Katzin continued with the Ophthalmology Department until 1975, when he left to join Frank Cignetti in practice in Monroeville. The practice flourished and Dr. Katzin continued to be active with the residency program by overseeing the training program at the Veteran’s Hospital. At the VA, he added new state of the art instrumentation as it became available, which meant that residents had access to the most up-to-date technology.

Dr. Katzin was the go-to person to answer difficult management questions. His strength was in the compassionate management and care of patients. He always had time to answer their questions and explain treatments. He connected with them, always considering other medical and social issues. As a result, he knew his patients well. Residents learned patient management from him and sought to emulate his care as a role model. He received a distinguished teaching award from the residents in 1983.

Dr. Katzin served as Chair of the Eye and Ear Resident Education Fund for over 40 years. He also served on the Board of the Western PA Eye Bank.

After Dr. Katzin retired, he joined the local retired ophthalmologist group and attended the semi-annual meetings. The most recent gathering was at the new UPMC Eye Institute at the Mercy site this past fall.

Dr. Katzin is survived by four children, Richard, Eugene, Darcy, and James, as well as nine cherished grandchildren. His legacy is the more than 200 residents in ophthalmology that he has influenced and are now practicing.