Obituary: Marlene Becker Katz / Artist's Upper St. Clair land became an animal sanctuary

March 29, 1941 - April 29, 2013

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Marlene Becker Katz's lifelong love of nature was reflected both in her many paintings and in the animal sanctuary she created at her former home in Upper St. Clair.

Ms. Katz of Bethel Park died Monday at Family Hospice in Mt. Lebanon. She was 72.

Her former husband, Theodore Katz, said his ex-wife had allowed most of their two-acre property in Upper St. Clair to return to its natural state. "A few paths ran through it, and there was room for deer to bed down there overnight," he said. "She fed everything from skunks to deer to groundhogs.

"I think she spent more money on food for the deer than for herself," Mr. Katz said. The property was sold about a year ago when illness made it too difficult for her to care for it, he said.

Ms. Katz was born March 29, 1941, in Pittsburgh. She graduated from Peabody High School. She and her former husband lived for many years in Upper St. Clair, where he still resides.

She appreciated fine cooking, according to her ex-husband, and was able to replicate at home dishes she had enjoyed in restaurants. He compared her talent to a musician who could play by ear. "She would just ask the server a few questions about the ingredients," he said.

Her survivors, in addition to her ex-husband, include her daughter, Erica of San Francisco; her brother, Arthur Becker of Stanton Heights; and two grandsons.

A self-taught artist, she sought to capture the beauty of trees, shrubs and blossoms in her paintings. "When flowers and plants were in full bloom, she'd take a photo and make that the basis for a beautiful oil painting," her ex-husband said.

Some of her works will be on display at her memorial service at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. The service will be at Beinhauer Mortuary, 2828 Washington Road, Peters.

Ms. Katz was cremated. Following her mother's request, Erica Katz will scatter her ashes at Crissy Field, a park near San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge,

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial donations be made to Animal Friends, 562 Camp Horne Road, Pittsburgh 15237. The organization's website is

"She was always befriending stray animals, mostly cats and some dogs," Mr. Katz said. "Three of her cats are running around the house where I am now. I'll be taking one, and the other two will be cared for by a friend."

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Len Barcousky: or 724-772-0184.


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