Shirley Ratman, 79; Holocaust Survivor Owned Katella Deli
By Rosemary McClure, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Shirley Ratman, a Holocaust survivor who with her late husband, Sam, founded the Katella Deli Restaurant and Bakery in Los Alamitos, one of the largest family-run businesses of its kind in the nation, has died. She was 79.

Ratman, of Long Beach, died Monday.

Born Szura Gibal in Ostrolenka, Poland, on Aug. 6, 1926, she was separated from her parents and two brothers in 1939 when the German army invaded Poland. She avoided capture by the Nazis by living alone in the forest through severe winter cold.

In 1945, the Soviet Army liberated Poland, and she met Sam Ratman, another Holocaust survivor. The couple lived in displaced-persons camps in Germany for five years before immigrating to the United States in 1950. They arrived with few belongings and no money.

Sam worked as a baker; Shirley cooked to make extra money. Eventually, they bought a bakery in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles. In 1965, they opened the Katella Deli, one of the first authentic Jewish bakeries in Orange County. Shirley’s recipes for matzo ball soup, potato latkes, blintzes, chicken soup and sweet-and-sour cabbage were an important part of the operation. Sam died in 1984.

Ratman is survived by three sons, Larry, Allan and Harold; and five grandchildren.