It’s rare to find a headstone maker who specializes in artistic memorial markers for Jews and Hmong. Heck, it’s rare to find anyone making Hmong funeral products in the United States, period.
The Katzman Monument Company, founded in 1935, was started in Minneapolis by Jacob “Jack” Katzman. He immigrated from Eastern Europe in 1913 at the age of 15 and served his newly adopted country in World War I. He entered the Minneapolis Institute of Art to study fine arts when he was 21.
After honing his skills, he started as an apprentice for local monument companies in Minneapolis before starting his own company in his backyard. Jack and his wife Bertha ran Katzman Monument Company for 50 years.
Jack established himself as the leader in the monument and marker industry by meticulously designing each monument and marker by hand. His work was known for unique and quality lettering, symbols and designs, both religious and secular. In 1981, with no one to take over the business, Jack reluctantly closed the company’s doors and retired from his life’s work. He died in the late 1980s.
Jack’s grandchildren have re-discovered his one-of-a-kind lettering, artwork and style and brought it back with the technological advances of the 21st century. Norm Taple, who joked he’s a lawyer by day, monument maker by night, and his brother Loren started the new Katzman Monument Company, LLC.
This new Katzman Monument Company uses the interactive abilities of the Internet to allow anyone anywhere to design a marker and share the process with family members, no matter where they live.
Through their website, KatzmanMonument.com, families have the ability to cut and paste elements to create a design, and share it electronically with anyone in the world. The client first sees a scale rendering of the final design and gives their approval before production gets underway.
Once finalized, the designed marker is created and shipped to the cemetery for installation. Their staff works to make sure a marker design conforms to the rules and regulations of the destination cemetery.
Since Katzman operates virtually online, it avoids costs associated with a physical storefront. Minnesota quarries about one-third of the granite used in the United States, and Katzman’s in-state manufacturer, Rex Granite, has been in business for 90 years. Both offer superior memorial products at reasonable prices.
In addition to the monuments and markers they design and produce, Katzman Monument Company also offers urns of metal, marble, stone, and ceramics. They also produce memorial markers for pets.
Katzman offers a downloadable PDF with several pages of information about Jewish monuments, Hebrew lettering, typical symbols, and traditions relating to unveiling ceremonies. You can find more information through this link to their website.
The company also has a web page for Hmong funeral and memorial traditions. The Hmong, who began immigrating from Southeast Asia in large numbers to Minnesota about 25 years ago, have many traditions related to funerals. Their funeral rituals can stretch on for three to four days.
Katzman has a team member who is well-versed in Hmong culture, traditions, language and the monument industry. Moua Soua owned two Hmong funeral homes for over a decade and is one of the largest importers of thwj-suab caskets from Laos.
And in keeping with their goal to bring monuments into the 21st century, Katzman has just launched an Interactive Memorial product. This is a 1.5″ x 1.5″ weather-proof QR code that adheres to any type of memorial.
Once scanned by a smartphone or tablet, the holder of the phone or tablet is routed to a personalized web page created by the family. This personalized web site can feature information about the decedent, a family tree, unlimited photos and unlimited videos that the family can upload and edit.
The Interactive Memorial option is included free with a purchase of a human monument or marker from Katzman or can be purchased as a stand-alone product for $100.00 (plus tax), if the family’s memorial already exists or the product that is purchased from Katzman is an urn.
While they are based in Minnesota, Katzman works with families all across the United States. If you decide to check them out and use their services, let them know Gail Rubin with The Family Plot Blog sent you!