Lewis Katz planned ‘a new level of ambition’ for Philly papers

Lewis Katz, who just last week won an auction for The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com, died Saturday in a plane crash in Massachusetts. Some updates:

  • Katz had attended a fundraiser Saturday for the Concord River Institute at the Concord, Massachusetts, home of historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, Dan Adams, Jeremy C. Fox and Martin Finucane report for The Boston Globe. He brought three friends with him: Anne Leeds, Marcella Dalsey and Susan K. Asbell. All died in the crash, as well as three crew members who haven’t yet been identified, the Globe reports.
Katz, right, with his son Drew in November 2013. Drew Katz will take his father’s place in the ownership structure of the Inquirer, the Daily News and Philly.com.

  • Philly.com has more about Katz’s friends: Dalsey worked with a number of Katz-associated nonprofit initiatives and operated an ice cream parlor in Haddonfield, New Jersey. Asbell was on the planning committee for the Boys & Girls Club of Camden County, a cause close to Katz. Leeds was his neighbor in Longport, New Jersey, and “had been invited at the last minute Saturday to join Katz on the trip to Massachusetts, and her decision to go was very much in keeping with their long friendship, said Ted Leeds, her son.”
  • Katz invited former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell to go along, but he begged off because of a previous engagement, he tells Lloyd Grove. Katz “way overpaid for the papers,” Rendell told Grove. “He did it because he wanted to keep the papers in Philly, and he didn’t want to close down the Daily News, and wanted to keep it free of any interference.”
  • Katz and Gerry Lenfest, who joined him in the winning bid, wrote an editorial about their plans for the paper that was published Sunday. It was the paper’s 185th birthday. “In the days ahead, you can expect to see a new level of ambition and journalism excellence,” they wrote. “We won’t waver for a moment to document the region’s ills where we find them – but we will also celebrate our many successes with stories that delight and lighten the day with both humor and joy.”
  • In a piece published the day before Katz’s death, Joel Mathis reported that Katz was surprised he and Lenfest won the auction. “I can’t tell you what our plans are, because my plan yesterday was to go home with a big check,” Katz told employees at a printing plant Wednesday. “And I kinda ended up going home with less than I walked in with. A lot less.”
  • It was “clear he didn’t have a grand plan for the company, just a determination to hire some top talent and make the enterprise better,” Dave Davies writes.
  • Katz also was in the past an owner of the New Jersey Nets, and planned with others to bring them to Newark. The plan “detoured and eventually dissolved,” Harvey Araton writes, “but it was under Katz’s highly visible ownership that the Nets enjoyed their greatest success as an N.B.A. franchise, reaching the league finals in 2002 and 2003 after the acquisition of point guard Jason Kidd.”
  • Katz also once had a stake in the Yankees, who held a moment of silence for him Sunday.

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