Popular Camden schoolteacher dies

Students and teachers at Camden Middle School are mourning the death of a popular seventh-grade math instructor.

Leon Kats, 54, died late Wednesday after a brief illness. School officials declined comment on the cause of death.

Kats was "very beloved," Kershaw County school spokeswoman Mary Anne Byrd said.

Camden Middle principal Jeff Jordan said Kats was an energetic, dedicated teacher who inspired and challenged pupils.

"He epitomized everything I'd like a teacher to be," said Jordan, whose son also had Kats as a teacher. "He really went the extra mile for children. He felt it was his calling."

Kats had taught at the school since 1997 and was an adviser for the yearbook and other student organizations, officials said.

He became a teacher after retiring from the Air Force, Jordan said.

Palmetto Health Richland spokeswoman Tammie Epps said Kats died at 10:55 p.m. Wednesday but cited privacy restrictions in refusing to offer more detail.

Efforts to reach Kershaw County Coroner Johnny Fellers Thursday were unsuccessful.

Kats' death is a shock, Jordan said.

"He was healthy, robust," he said. "He was like the Energizer Bunny."

- Staff Reports

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