Charles Leonard Katzenmeyer Jr.
Charles Leonard Katzenmeyer Jr. was born on June 25, 1922, in Vicksburg, the son of Charles Leonard Katzenmeyer Sr. and Clare Brent Katzenmeyer. After a long and distinguished life, he peacefully departed this life on August 17, 2020, in Ridgeland.
He graduated from St. Aloysius High School in 1939 and enrolled as a student at the University of Mississippi, majoring in English with plans to obtain his law degree. He was already in flight training at the university when he heard the news of the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor and enlisted in the Army Air Corps. He obtained his private pilot’s license and had completed three semesters in law school before being called into service in September 1942. On his 21st birthday, he received his Air Corps pilot’s wings and commission. He was assigned to the 9th Army Air Corps in the European Theater as a P-47 pilot.
He was one of the first P-47 Thunderbolt pilots in the 365th Fighter-Bomber Group known as “The Hell Hawks.” He named his plane “Kitty” to honor his wife, Alice. He served in combat flying out of England, then from France, Belgium and Germany. He was an operations officer on D-Day, flying cover and bombing missions over the Normandy beaches.
During his time of service, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with 15 Oak Leaf Clusters, and the European/African/Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with four Bronze Stars. True to his reputation as a member of the “Greatest Generation” Leonard remained humble about his service to his country.
Upon his return from World War II, he and Alice moved to Oxford where he completed his Bachelor of Laws degree and his Juris Doctor from the University of Mississippi.
Returning to Vicksburg, Leonard practiced law with his father Charles L. Katzenmeyer Sr., specializing in taxation, real estate and probate law. Over the next 40 years, he served in various civic, professional and volunteer positions. During stints as a director in the Chamber of Commerce and Vice Chairman of the Vicksburg Planning Commission, Leonard played a significant role during an important transition period that brought growth to the city of Vicksburg.
As President of Mississippi Building & Loan, Leonard was instrumental in converting the association from a state to a federally chartered association. He served the State Savings & Loan League as its president, and also served the Savings & Loan industry in many capacities, including offices in the Southwest and the U.S. Leagues, as well as the American S&L Institute. He held offices in the Mississippi Bar Association, Chamber of Commerce, Knights of Columbus, United Fund, Lions and Rotary Clubs, the Vicksburg Country Club, and the building funds for St Paul’s Catholic Church and St Aloysius.
Leonard passionately believed in the power of education and proved that belief throughout his lifetime. When he wasn’t taking required legal continuing education courses, he enrolled in other courses to learn something new — such as photography, piano, computers, and even engine repair. He also completed home study courses to become a Certified Financial Planner. As further evidence of his commitment that education should be available to everyone, he endowed a scholarship at Hinds Community College that continues to this day.
In retirement, he retained his fondness for outdoor life, hunting, fishing, and playing golf, relishing the memories of good times spent at his lodge on Long Lake. He was a long time member of St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Vicksburg.
He is predeceased by his parents, Charles Leonard Katzenmeyer Sr. and Clare Brent Katzenmeyer; his older brother, Brent Katzenmeyer; his wife of 55 years, Alice Pervangher Katzenmeyer; his second wife of 19 years, Jane Woods Katzenmeyer; and his daughter-in-law Ida Ford Katzenmeyer.
He leaves his love and legacy with his and Alice’s three children, son, David Katzenmeyer of Vicksburg; daughters, Kay (David) Robinson of Burke, Va., and Joan Katzenmeyer of Madison; grandsons, Charles (Brandy) Katzenmeyer, Tom Robinson of Dallas, Texas and Wade (Katherine) Robinson of Stafford, Va.; and great-grandsons Cordale Katzenmeyer and Gabriel Katzenmeyer of Vicksburg, and Sean Harrington and Wyatt Robinson of Stafford, Va.
His adoring family and friends will miss his wisdom and laughter.
Graveside services will be held Friday, Aug. 21, 2020, at 10 a.m. at Cedar Hill Cemetery under the direction of Fisher-Riles Funeral Home with the Rev. Rusty Vincent officiating. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Southern Heritage Air Foundation, http://SouthernHeritageAir.org