Gil Katz grew a beard in 1972 to play Tevye, the lead role in "Fiddler on the Roof," at Margate's Jewish Community Center. He never shaved it off.

Those two related facts tell you a few things about Katz, who lived in Margate and died last month at 91.

He loved music and theater, and spent years acting and singing in local productions of Broadway-type musicals.

The other thing is, once he found something that worked in his life, Katz stuck with it.

He married the former Helene Lehrman in 1944, and he was still married to her in 2013. He ran his business, the Gilbert Katz Insurance Agency, for 44 years, until he retired in 1994.

And he was a member of Margate's Planning Board for 28 years. He was still on the board last year, at 90. Other members "came and went," as his wife puts it. "He stayed."

Gil enjoyed his work on the board, but he wasn't just there to fill a seat.

"He was quite opinionated, shall we say," added Debbie Skwisz, 62, of Egg Harbor Township, the younger of Gil and Helene's two daughters.

He was also very organized - even without help from Helene, who kept the books and ran the office for his business all those years.

Gil was in charge of compiling the family picture albums he kept in big, three-ring binders. He had 37 of them, in chronological order, dating back to before he and Helene were even born. And the pictures go up to today, a few years to a book, although big events - weddings, bar mitzvahs, 80th birthdays and such - have their own separate albums.

And speaking of albums, the music lover in Gil collected almost 10,000 vinyl records - the big, old-fashioned kind. He went to local garage sales for years to hunt for them, and he never updated his technology to compact discs, let alone iTunes.

"He had classical, big bands, Broadway, opera," said his grandson, Mike Kornblau, 34, of Margate. Gil had them filed in 69 numbered cubbyholes - and his family swears he knew exactly where every record was, although he never explained the logic of his system to anybody else.

He could also sing along to most of his records. He was always singing - even in the hospital after he fell and broke his shoulder last year. He wasn't shy about sharing his voice with the world, either.

"He did 'Fiddler on the Roof' at the JCC twice," said Stella Blumberg, now of Northfield, the producer of those shows, in 1972 and 1992. "He was as good as Zero Mostel - and that's no exaggeraton. He loved the theater, he loved to perform and he gave 1,000 percent every performance."

There are more pictures all over the Katz's walls, including a big one inside the front door, of Gil as Tevye, the role that changed his life - and his face.

Contact Martin DeAngelis:

609-272-7237