Lewis Katz, Phila. Inquirer owner, dies in plane crash

Correction: An earlier version of this story ncorrectly reported that James Leeds, a town commissioner in Longport, N.J., was killed in the accident. Leeds was not aboard the airplane, but his wife, Anne Leeds, was among the seven people who died.

Lewis Katz, who made his fortune in the parking lot business and went on to buy basketball’s New Jersey Nets, hockey’s New Jersey Devils and, in the past week, the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper, died May 31 in a plane crash. He was 72.

He was killed in the crash of a private jet as it was preparing to take off from an airport about 20 miles northwest of Boston. Six other people were killed in the crash. His death was confirmed Sunday by his son, Drew Katz, and his business partner Harold H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest.

Mr. Katz grew up in Camden, N.J., and was a graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia and Penn State University’s law school. He made his fortune investing in the Kinney Parking empire and the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network in New York. He once owned the Nets and Devils professional sports franchises in New Jersey.

In 2012, Mr. Katz was part of a group that bought the parent company of the Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News for $55 million. He clashed repeatedly with another co-owner, George Norcross, who led efforts to oust the Inquirer’s editor, William Marimow.

Mr. Katz insisted that Marimow be reinstated. Mr. Katz’s companion, Nancy Phillips, is the Inquirer’s city editor. She was not aboard the airplane in Massachusetts.

Lewis Katz, owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer and former owner of the New Jersey Nets and New Jersey Devils, was among seven people killed on Saturday when a private jet caught fire and crashed during takeoff. (Reuters)

On Tuesday, Mr. Katz and Lenfest agreed to pay $88 million to buy the newspaper company in a court-ordered auction that was closed to the public, taking control of the Inquirer and Daily News from Norcross and other investors.

“You’ve got to make money in the world that we live in, in order to accomplish what your ultimate goal is,” Mr. Katz said in April at a hearing about the Inquirer’s sale. “But along with making money, equally important is preserving, for the community, a community trust. That’s what this paper represents.”

Lenfest said Sunday that the deal will be delayed but will proceed. Mr. Katz’s son, Drew, will take his father’s place on the Inquirer’s board of directors.

According to news reports, other passengers killed in the plane crash were Anne Leeds of Longport, N.J.; and Marcella Dalsey, executive director of the Drew A. Katz Foundation and president of KATZ Academy Charter School.

The identities of the three crew members were not available.

According to the Boston Globe, Mr. Katz attended a fundraiser in Concord, Mass., on Saturday at the home of historian Doris Kearns Goodwin and her husband, Richard Goodwin, who was an adviser to Democratic presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson.

Mr. Katz donated tens of millions of dollars to Temple University in Philadelphia, a Camden charter school and various Jewish causes.

Mr. Katz’s wife, Marjorie, died last year. Survivors include two children.

Comments
Show Comments
Most Read National

national

Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters