The Philadelphia Inquirer | The Boston Globe
Lewis Katz died Saturday night in a plane crash in Bedford, Massachusetts, the Inquirer reports. He was 72. A private plane carrying Katz and six others “ran off a runway Saturday night at Hanscom Field and burst into flames,” The Boston Globe reports. Four passengers and three crewmembers died.
Katz’s son Drew, the CEO of Interstate Outdoor Advertising in New Jersey, will take his place in the ownership group, Katz’s spokesperson tells Poynter.
Just last Tuesday Katz and H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest won control of the publishing assets of Interstate General Media, getting the Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com, in an auction. The deal is still expected to go through, Katz’s spokesperson says.
“It is with an incomprehensible amount of grief and the heaviest of hearts that my sister and I announce the loss of our beloved dad,” Drew Katz said in a statement. “His sudden passing adds to our family’s grief over the recent passing of our beloved mother, Marjorie Katz. We will miss both of them tremendously but will work to carry on the enormous legacy that they both created.”
Reached by phone, Inquirer Editor William Marimow said he found out about Katz’s death at 7 this morning. “Lewis, in my opinion, was really an extraordinary person,” Marimow said. “He loved journalism. He loved the Inquirer, and I think he really relished his ability to rub shoulders with editors and reporters and photographers. You could feel he genuinely liked being in the company of the newsroom.” Katz got a “love of journalism, an appreciation of the craft” from legendary columnist Drew Pearson, Marimow said. Katz worked as a “leg man” for Pearson, and named Drew for him.
Katz treated everyone well, “from the maintenance man and the receptionist to the CEO,” Marimow said. “He loved his native city of Camden and his adopted home of Philadelphia,” Drew Katz said. “He believed in strengthening education through his founding of charter schools, his support of the Boys & Girls Clubs and his generosity to his alma maters, Temple University and Dickinson Law School.”
“We are really, really going to miss him,” Marimow said.
“Lewis was an extraordinary man and this is an incredible loss,” former Inquirer owner and Publisher Brian Tierney told Poynter in an email. “I spoke with him frequently and as recently as Friday. The conversation centered on the two things he often discussed—his love and pride for his family and the newspapers he and Gerry Lenfest were about to own.”
Katz “seemed so excited about this next phase in his life,” Tierney, who is chairman of the Poynter Foundation, said.
“We are shocked and deeply sorry to hear about the tragic death of Lewis Katz,” former co-owners George E. Norcross, William P. Hankowsky and Joseph E. Buckelew said in a statement emailed to Poynter. “Our sincere condolences, thoughts and prayers go out to his family, loved ones and many friends and admirers. Lew’s long-standing commitment to the community and record of strong philanthropy across the region, particularly Camden where he was born and raised, will ensure that his legacy will live on.”