By Mike Dougherty
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Lewis Katz, co-owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, was among seven people who died in a plane crash Saturday night (see related story). After learning of his tragic death Sunday morning, reaction poured in from people who remember him as a businessman, as well as a philanthropist.
“We all feel terrible about the loss of Lewis Katz,” said his partner Gerry Lenfest. “He was a wonderful, wonderful person.”
The month of May was a memorable one for Katz. He and Lenfest won a bid to buy the Philadelphia newspapers (see related story). He also spoke at Temple University’s graduation and the university named its medical school after him. Last year, Katz gave the school a gift of $25-million, the largest in Temple’s history.
“Temple, he felt, was a school that provided education for people who really wanted an education,” Lenfest says, “not just because their parents went to college.”
Temple University President Neil Theobald echoed those sentiments, saying the school would not be where it is today without Katz’s wisdom and gifts.
“He’s irreplaceable,” Theobald said. “There’s just no one with that background that’s lived what we’re all about to the extent that Lewis Katz has.”
Katz rose from humble beginnings in Camden, New Jersey. In a statement, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said Katz stayed humble never forgot where he came from, even after he made millions and eventually bought the New Jersey Devils and Nets (see related story).
Lenfest said the world lost a special man.
“He performed simple acts of kindness to, not only his friends, but everybody he met,” he said. “He was unusual, creative, resourceful, kind person and we all feel a terrible loss.”
Drew Katz will take his father’s position on the board of the new media company with Lenfest.
Katz was attending a charity event in Massachusetts. He was 72.