Jay Katzen, a former resident of Fauquier County, died on April 9 at the age of 83. He was the chair of the Fauquier Republican Committee in the early 1990s and represented the 31st District in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1994 to 2002 after a career in the U.S. Foreign Service that began in 1959.
In the legislature he became freshman class president and a party whip, and co-sponsored more than 2,500 bills; he was an especially outspoken advocate for public funding of private school tuition. A 2001 editorial from the Washington Times called Katzen “perhaps the General Assembly's most dogged and persistent champion of school choice in particular, tuition tax credits.”
After four terms in the Virginia legislature he was the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in 2001 and for the 9th U.S. Congressional seat in 2002; he lost both elections.
Katzen was born in Brooklyn, NY, and attended Princeton and Yale Universities before entering the Foreign Service. During his government career he served in postings in Australia, Burundi, both Congos, Romania, Mali, the United Nations and the White House. He later served as the chief of staff of the Peace Corps.
In 2003 Katzen was named the chair of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. From 2009, he and his wife, Paddy, lived in Alaska, where he served as a park ranger at Denali National Park.