WALLINGFORD/NORWALK - Dennis Ronald Katona, Jr. 87, made his transition on April 30th, 2019. He was the former husband of the late Rita Salvi Katona.
He was born in Norwalk on August 26, 1931 to the late Dennis and Elizabeth (Dakai) Katona, Sr.
Dennis held a Bachelor’s of Science from Teachers College of CT and an Associates Degree from Trinidad State College in CO in Gunsmithing. He was an industrial arts teacher in Westport and was teaching at Bedford Junior High School when renowned artist, Stevan Dohanos, captured his image along with several of his students, for the March 19th, 1955 Saturday Evening Post cover.
Recently, Dennis returned to live in Norwalk, only minutes from where he had worked as a scientific engineer at Perkin-Elmer. He was one of the designers working on “Project Mercury” that predated the Apollo rockets that went to the moon. He was also a designer at Wilkes Scientific and Barnes Engineering and CT Instrument Company. Mr. Katona was part of the original group of concerned citizens who worked to save the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion.
Mr. Katona was in charge of firearms research and design at Winchester Firearms, Marlin Firearms and O.F. Mossberg and Sons. While at Marlin, among others, he entirely self-designed the 120 pump shotgun, and the 1895/45-70 lever action that is still one of Marlins best-selling rifles.
Throughout his life, he had his own business, Modern Guncraft. He was a factory authorized repair station for Crosman, Benjamin/Sheriden Airguns, and was known for his prowess with them.
He was a volunteer at the Oakdale and Shubert Theaters, a member of Ye CT Gun Guild, Wallingford Rod and Gun Club and a lifetime member of the NRA. A member of the Republican Town Committee, he served as an election machine mechanic for 16 years. For 17 years, he assisted his wife with the Wallingford Welcome Wagon.
He is survived by his children, Ronald Katona of Wallingford, Rhea K. Angle and her husband, David, of Arizona and Raissa Katona Bennett and her husband, Dr. Garrett Bennett of NY; a grandson, Ryan Dolan of South Carolina; three great granddaughters, Shea, Abby and Cami, his chihuahua, Tiny, and several nieces and nephews. He is predeceased by a sister, Doris K. Calby of CA.
Donations in his name may be made to the Wallingford Historic Preservation Trust at www.wallingfordcthistory.org, or the Wallingford Historical Society, 180 South Main Street, Wallingford, CT 06492.
A graveside service will be held on Satuday, May 11th at 10:30 am, at the Center Street Cemetery of Wallingford. Friends are welcome to attend. There will be a brief reception following the service at The Library Wine Bar, located at 60 North Main Street, Wallingford, CT. There are no calling hours. To leave a message of remembrance, please visit www.BaileyCares.com.