By Julie Shapiro and Nicole Bode
CHELSEA — More than 100 mourners gathered at Chelsea Market Tuesday morning for a somber memorial in honor of Ronen Katz, the successful young hedge-fund executive killed on his motorcycle in a hit-and-run crash on the West Side Highway Sunday.
“I want people to remember my brother, because there weren't many people like him in this world,” Katz's sister Tamar Katz, the three-time Israeli figure-skating champion, said in an e-mail before the event. "He was a rare breed and only 27 years old."
People dressed in black packed into a first-floor event space at the Chelsea Market for the 11 a.m. event, where enlarged photos of Katz were posted around the room.
Half-a-dozen of Katz's friends, relatives and co-workers spoke at the memorial, which lasted about 40 minutes.
"The ceremony was beautiful — the amount of friends, co-workers and families who were all so touched by his life, it was unbelievable," said Adam Neumann, 31, an acquaintance of one of Katz's close friends.
"He lived his life happy and every day to the fullest. He would want everyone to do the same," Neumann added. "He was only 27, but he did more than many people do in a lifetime."
Katz, an East Village resident, was a rising star in the financial world, coming up through the ranks at a young age to become vice president of the Manhattan investment firm Angelo, Gordon & Co. before he was struck and killed by a car while riding his motorcycle Sunday evening.
Naisha Sutton, 25, was driving with a learner’s permit with her baby in the backseat when she made an illegal left turn from Canal Street on to the West Side Highway, clipping Katz's motorcycle, prosecutors said.
Sutton’s lawyer said she left the scene because her child was hysterical after the crash. She later turned herself in to police in Brooklyn, and was arraigned Monday on charges of unlicensed driving and leaving the scene of an accident, which is a felony. She was ordered held on $100,000 bail.
Katz, a graduate of the Wharton School of business at the University of Pennsylvania, also had an avid volunteering schedule, including a stint at the Hebrew Academy for Special Children, officials said. Katz was set to receive the agency’s 2010 Young Business Leadership Award this week.
Katz's body will be transported back to Israel Tuesday night, relatives said.