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Former Lodi mayor Ted Katzakian dies at 71

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Posted: Monday, October 20, 2008 10:00 pm

Former Lodi mayor and Realtor Ted Katzakian, who died unexpectedly Saturday, will be remembered for many things, including the nicknames he gave to his favorite people. Services are scheduled for Thursday.


Ted Katzakian

Maggie Talbot, who served on the Lodi Planning Commission with Katzakian in the early 1970s, said Katzakian had a nickname for everyone, including her husband and Lodi Dodgers owner Bud Sullivan who was known as "Silky" after a racehorse named "Silky Sullivan." Katzakian called Maggie "Magdalena" for reasons she still doesn't know, she said Monday.

"He was very caring about the community," Talbot added of his two-year commission tenure, from 1969 to 1971. "And he was always fun."

While he served on the City Council for four years in the late 1970s, the real estate agent may be best known for building shopping centers, office complexes and custom homes throughout the area. Locally, his real estate firm - Katzakian, Williams and Associates - developed the Beckman Ranch, Sunnyside Estates and Park West subdivisions in Lodi.

He began his real estate career in 1961 and built it into the largest independently known real estate firm in the Lodi area.

In the 1970s, Katzakian was also part owner of the Lodi Dodgers minor league baseball team along with longtime Lodian Sullivan. The team, the predecessor to the Lodi Crushers, played here until 1983 and won the state league championship twice, in 1977 and 1981.

Sullivan, who still has his championship ring, remembers traveling in Katzakian's uncle's car to a World Series game in Los Angeles when the Dodgers played the New York Yankees.

Memorial service

A memorial service for Ted Katzakian will be held at Bear Creek Community Church, 11171 N. Lower Sacramento Road, at 10 a.m. Thursday. Immediately following the service, a reception will be held at Wine and Roses, 2505 W. Turner Road. Donations can be made to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society at (800) 955-4572.

"It was great fun. I have so many memories about Teddy," said Sullivan who also played on a city basketball league with Katzakian.

Every summer for a number of years they would take their families to Aptos Beach for a few weeks. "We just always had a neat time."

His death came as a surprise to Sullivan. Just two weeks ago, the 71-year-old Katzakian was healthy and driving around Santa Barbara where he attended a wedding, according to his son, Timothy, who will best remember fishing trips he took with his dad.

Katzakian had contracted lymphoma four or five years ago, but recovered and seemed healthy until last week, according to Timothy Katzakian. He died of leukemia at a Sacramento hospital early Saturday morning.

Katzakian, who was born in Lodi, attended Henderson Grammar School and graduated from Lodi High School. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1959 and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, but ultimately returned to Lodi.

He entered the field of real estate with his uncle and fellow mayor Bo Katzakian at Katzakian and Schaffer Real Estate in 1961. Later, he went on to form Aladdin Real Estate; Genie Construction Company; Katzakian, Heath, and Williams Real Estate; Ted Katzakian Company; and Ted Katzakian Property Management.

Today, numerous homes, duplexes, apartments, condominiums and shopping centers in Lodi and Galt have his name and hand attached to them. One of the best known is probably the Vineyard Shopping Center on Kettleman Lane where Mervyn's is located, Timothy Katzakian said.

His father served one term on the council, from 1976 to 1980, becoming mayor in his final year. He did not seek re-election, his son said.

Before being elected, Katzakian served as president of Lodi Kiwanis Club from 1970 to 1971, president of the Lodi Board of Realtors in 1976 and president of the Woodbridge Golf and Country Club in 1989.

He was preceded in death by his mother Sue, father Tom and daughter Kristen. He is survived by his sister and brother-in-law, Eleanor and Don Kundert; nieces Pam Squires, Kim Kundert and Kelly Nuss, and their families; son and daughter in-law, Timothy and Suzie Katzakian; and one grandson, Trevor.

Katzakian's cousin, Phil, is currently on the Lodi City Council.

Timothy Katzakian said his father had many friends with whom he enjoyed golfing, but he saved the fishing to share with his family. In the past few years, they had taken two trips to Cabo San Lucas to fish in the Pacific Ocean. Ted Katzakian also enjoyed fishing for trout in New Melones Reservoir and Silver Lake.

His son said his father was such the neat freak that when he went to the hospital for the last time he asked his son to go back to his house to make his bed.

Once, Timothy Katzakian recalled, he was driving his father's car when he had to pick up coffee. As he was making a turn, Ted called the cell phone of Timothy who was quickly running out of hands and consequently dumped coffee all over his father's "immaculate" vehicle. Timothy ended up having to get the car professionally cleaned.

Dennis Plummer, who owns the Plummer Auto Mall in Lodi, was one of Katzakian's longest friends. The two met when Plummer's brother, Bruce, served in the Air Force Reserves with Katzakian and used to bring him home for Plummer's mother's "fabulous" cooking, said Dennis Plummer, five years Katzakian's junior.

"He was infectious even when he was 23," he added. "He had the most magnificent character of anyone. That's what made Teddy so great.

"The service to his community was above reproach. What couldn't he have done to give back to his community?"

While first and foremost his friend, in the last 47 years, Katzakian has built a "multitude" of homes for Plummer and handled his other real estate actions.

Funeral director Leonard Messer, who also played with Katzakian on the city basketball league decades ago, remembered him for his dedication to the Kiwanis of which they were both members. "He was a guy always willing to help, always willing to do everything," he said.

In the 1970s, the two men were among the group that dressed as clowns to sell peanuts from grocery carts along the Grape Festival parade path. Messer said they would meet four hours beforehand to get their make-up just right.

"He was involved in a lot of things, business-wise, and he was a great basketball player," he added. "Ted was just a friendly guy who you would love to know. I really, really enjoyed his friendship."

Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at jenniferb@lodinews.com.

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5 comments:

  • posted at 6:06 am on Wed, Oct 22, 2008.

    Posts:

    Ted, Really one nice person I met in the construction field. Your in a better place! Now make em all smile n' laugh up there! God Bless

     
  • posted at 11:28 am on Tue, Oct 21, 2008.

    Posts:

    Ted was the nicest man. You'll have a hard time finding another like him! He always had a smile for me. My condolences.

     
  • posted at 8:43 am on Tue, Oct 21, 2008.

    Posts:

    Farewell, Mr. Katzakian. Lodi will miss you. Godspeed.

     
  • posted at 5:46 am on Tue, Oct 21, 2008.

    Posts:

    The Lodi High School class of 1954 will greatly miss Ted. He was going to be our Reunion Master of Ceremonies for our 55th reunion to be held Sept. 2009. His personality and humor will be missed. He always had a smile and kind words for his classmates. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family. Bev Wall Lacy

     
  • posted at 2:15 am on Tue, Oct 21, 2008.

    Posts:

    Ted was really one of the "good guys". Always there to help and lend a hand when you needed it. Well Tim, we're here to lend you a hand if you need it. It's the least we could do. My sincere condolences.

     

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