Harry Kittner

by | Oct 19, 2012 | Obituaries

Chapel Hill—Harry Kittner, 90, passed away on Oct. 12, 2012, after a period of declining health.

Harry was born March 18, 1922, in Weldon, N.C., the fourth of six children of the late Rose and Louis Kittner. Raised in a close-knit, Jewish family, he was the product of the values, traditions and aspirations of his immigrant parents combined with the best attributes of the small, neighborly town of Weldon, where he lived for much of his life. His friendly, outgoing manner and kindness to others will long be remembered. He lived an exemplary and remarkable life.

Harry’s parents stressed hard work and the importance of education. Harry excelled in school and graduated from Weldon High School, where he was selected as “Best All Round” by his teachers. Throughout his childhood, he helped out in his father’s shoe repair shop, which later grew into Kittner’s Department Store.

Kittner could proudly boast that he attended all three of the Triangle’s top universities. He matriculated as a freshman to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. However, due to the urgent need for engineers as the U.S. was drawn into World War II, he transferred early in his sophomore year to N.C. State to study engineering. While at State, he also volunteered to enlist in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves. At the end of his junior year, he received orders to join the V-12 program and was transferred to Duke University, where he graduated with honors. While proud of his ties to all three institutions, he was, at his core, a Tar Heel.

Upon college graduation in 1944, he completed basic training at Paris Island, S.C., and was commissioned as a second lieutenant at the marine training base in Quantico, Va. He was sent to the Pacific theatre to join the 3rd Marine Division on the island of Guam. With the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the war ended and Harry’s fate took a different turn. He was sent to Mainland China for occupation duty with the 1st Marine Division. In 1946, he was discharged from active duty as a first lieutenant in the Marine Corps Reserves.

Kittner returned to Weldon and entered the family business. He had the excellent fortune to be introduced by his best friend’s wife to the love of his life, Sarah Kornblau of Richmond. They married in 1952 and started a family.

Among the civic activities in which he participated over many years, Kittner served on the boards of the Weldon City Schools, Halifax Memorial Hospital, and the Halifax Community College Foundation. He was one of the founders of the Weldon Business Bureau, as well as a board member of the N.C. Retail Merchants Association. He was an active volunteer for numerous local charities.

Kittner was a member and lay leader of Temple Emanu-El of Weldon and a longtime member of North Carolina B’nai B’rith. When the Weldon synagogue closed its doors in 2003, he was instrumental in ensuring that the religious objects and Torahs were passed along to other Jewish communities for continued use.

Harry and Sarah relocated to Chapel Hill in 1998. In Chapel Hill, Harry was a member of Kehillah Synagogue. Through his efforts, a chapel was established at the Kehillah as a memorial to Temple Emanu-El of Weldon.

At the center of Harry’s world was his family. He was a devoted son and son-in-law, loyal brother, loving husband, cherished father and adored “Pop-Pop.” He loved his nieces and nephews and was great friends with his many cousins.

Harry is survived by his wife of 60 years, Sarah K. Kittner of Chapel Hill; children, Ben Kittner of Raleigh; Betty Kittner and Kent Dewey of Greensboro; Berta Kittner and Robert Levin of Chapel Hill; Sam and Bobbi Kittner of Takoma Park, Md.; Kim Kittner of Raleigh; six grandchildren— Noah Kittner, Kaylie Kittner, Louis Levin, Sally Levin, Max Kittner and Joe Kittner.

Also surviving, siblings, David and Connie Kittner of Philadelphia, Pa.; Lucille Kittner Frank of Portsmouth, Va.; William and Ida Kittner of Norfolk, Va; brother-inlaw, Theodore Bleecker of Sarasota, Fl.; and brother- and sister-in-law, Sam and Helen Kornblau of Richmond, Va. Kittner also leaves behind 13 nieces and nephews.

In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his brother, Joseph M. Kittner, and his wife, Esther; sister, Dorothy Kittner Bleecker; and brother-in-law, B. Joseph Frank.

Funeral services were held at Kehillah Synagogue with Rabbi Jen Feldman officiating. Burial followed in the Kehillah Section of Markham Memorial Gardens.

Contributions can be made to Halifax Community College, Kittner Family Scholarship Fund, PO Drawer 809, Weldon, N.C. 27890; Kehillah Synagogue, 1200 Mason Farm Road, Chapel Hill, N.C. 27514; UNC Kittner Eye Center, c/o Sandy Scarlett, Campus Box 7040, Chapel Hill, NC 27599; or the charity of one’s choice.

Howerton & Bryan Funeral Home. Online condolences at www.howertonbryan.com.