Mass. fiery plane crash survivors included Philadelphia Inquirer co-owner Lewis Katz and six other people as the aircraft was leaving Hanscom Field. The plane, a Gulfstream IV, was leaving Hanscom Field on May 31.
Harold H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest confirmed Katz’s death to The Associated Press, saying he was informed by their lawyer, Richard Sprague. The pair bought out their partners last week with an $88 million bid for the company, which also operates the Philadelphia Daily News and the news website Philly.com.
Officials gave no information on the cause of the crash. They said the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.
A representative for Doris Kearns Goodwin says Katz attended an event at her home shortly before the crash. The representative says the event Saturday was to support an education initiative involving one of her sons.
“Lew Katz was my cherished friend of nearly 20 years,” Goodwin said. “He was a force of nature.”
Lewis Katz’s son, Drew Katz, said in a statement that his father founded charter schools and supported Boys & Girls Clubs and his alma maters Temple University and Dickinson Law School.
“He loved his native city of Camden and his adopted home of Philadelphia,” Drew Katz said in a statement. “He never forgot where and how he grew up, and he worked tirelessly to support his community in countless ways that were seen and unseen.”
In 2010, NJBiz.com named Katz New Jersey’s 26th richest person, with a net worth of $180 million.
When bidding on the company, Katz and Lenfest vowed to fund in-depth journalism to return the Inquirer to its former glory and to retain its editor, Bill Marimow.
“It’s going to be a lot of hard work. We’re not kidding ourselves. It’s going to be an enormous undertaking,” Katz said then, noting that advertising and circulation revenues had fallen for years. “Hopefully, (the Inquirer) will get fatter.”
Katz, who grew up in Camden, New Jersey, made his fortune investing in the Kinney Parking empire and the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network in New York. He once owned the NBA’s New Jersey Nets and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils and was a major donor to Temple University, his alma mater.
The NBA also released a statement Sunday.
“All of us at the NBA were extremely saddened to learn of the tragic, sudden death of former Nets owner Lewis Katz,” Commissioner Adam Silver said. “He was a visionary businessman who touched the lives of so many with his tireless pursuit of innovation and enterprise, as well as his deep commitment to his family, friends and community.”
The fight over the future of the city’s two major newspapers was sparked last year by a decision to fire the Inquirer’s Pulitzer Prize-winning editor. Katz and Lenfest wanted a judge to block the firing. Katz sued a fellow owner, powerful Democratic powerbroker George Norcross, saying his ownership rights had been trampled. The dispute culminated last week when Katz and Lenfest, a former cable magnate-turned-philanthropist, bought out their partners.