Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection

Document Type

Oral History

Publication Date


Interview Number

MOH 305


Bennett Katz was born in Springfield, Massachusetts and grew up mostly in Boston. He was president of his high school class at Roxbury Memorial High School. His mother was Frances Wolk Katz. His father was Samuel Katz, a salesman for Rival Foods. Bennett Katz attended Tufts University as a commuter student while working fulltime. After graduating in 1940, he joined the Army Air Corps for five years as a military pilot. He married his childhood friend Edith Coombs during the war. After service, he joined American Overseas Airlines and after being laid off he spent the summer in Maine with his family. He moved to Maine because his wife’s family had two branches of the jewelry store Nicholson & Ryan. He joined the city council to represent his neighborhood, advocating for weekly trash pick-up. He ran for mayor, but lost to an independent Republican. He then ran for Maine Legislature and served in the House of Representatives. Finding it too large, he ran for the Senate and won. He served in the Maine Legislature for 17 years.

Scope and Content Note

Interview includes discussions of: Army Air Corps during World War II; working for American Overseas Airlines; politics in Augusta, Maine; how Maine got the income tax; Louis Jalbert; education legislation; Education for the Handicapped Bill; Lynch Katz Committee; Ken Curtis; rivalry between Augusta and Waterville; discussion over the potential Sydney Airport (especially with relation to Muskie’s stance on the issue); Katz’s affiliation with University of Maine at Augusta; and the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE).

Use Restrictions

Copyright Bates College. This transcript is provided for individual Research Purposes Only; for all other uses, including publication, reproduction and quotation beyond fair use, permission must be obtained in writing from: The Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library, Bates College, 70 Campus Avenue, Lewiston, Maine 04240-6018.