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Friends Remember Lewis Katz’s Generosity And Kindness

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(Credit: CBS3)

(Credit: CBS3)

Matt-Rivers-web-headshot Matt Rivers
Matt Rivers joined CBS 3 and The CW Philly’s Eyewitness News team ...
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By Matt Rivers

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Co-owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer and dedicated philanthropist Lewis Katz was among seven people killed in a weekend plane crash.

The plane went off a runway at Hanscom Field, a public airport in Bedford, Massachusetts, about 20 miles northwest of Boston. It was headed to Atlantic City International Airport.

Some of the other victims have been identified. Among the passengers killed in the crash were Susan Asbell, the wife of former Camden County prosecutor Sam Asbell , Marcella Dalsey, the executive director of the Katz foundation, and Anne Leeds, the wife of Longport, NJ Town Commissioner James Leeds.

Three crew members were killed as well. They have not been identified.

The National Transportation Safety Board says an investigation in ongoing, but so far the NTSB believes the plane never left the ground.

An NTSB spokesperson said, “It went down an embankment and into a gully with water, and that’s where it came to rest. So, it’s making the investigation difficult.”

Katz and the others were headed home after attending a fundraiser for a music school at the home of author Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell was close friends with Katz. “I can’t tell you, I can’t calculate how big of a loss this is for us as a community,” Rendell said.

The former governor was invited to be on the plane but had declined Katz’s invitation to go. Rendell said Katz was a kind-hearted and generous man.

Born in Camden to a family with limited means, Katz made his fortune by investing in the Kenny Parking empire and the YES Network. He owned the New Jersey Nets and New Jersey Devils for a time, and just recently he won co-ownership of the Philadelphia Inquirer with partner Gerry Lenfest after a long legal battle.

Sunday, he was remembered as someone for whom charity was the highest calling.

“I see some of these rich people who do things for evil reasons,” Rendell said, “and I say, ‘why did the Lord give that person money?’ He got it right when he gave Lewis money.”

Katz had just donated $25 million to Temple University, his alma mater. In one of his last public appearances, Lewis Katz was the commencement speaker at the university’s graduation ceremony, just a few weeks ago. His commitment to charity was front and center in the speech.

“You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you,” Katz said in his commencement address.

Katz was in Massachusettes at the request of his friend, author Doris Kearns Goodwin. She wrote of him, “He was a force of nature. So deep was his commitment to education reform that he flew to Concord to support my son Michael’s Concord River Institute. I have lost a great friend… and the country has lost a great man.”

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