Sad news this morning: Lewis Katz, ’66g, died in a private plane crash over a Massachusetts field last night, according to various outlets. The Dickinson Law graduate, for whom the Law Building here is named after, was the co-owner of The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Philadelphia Daily News, and Philly.com. He was 72.
The Gulfstream IV plane crashed at about 9:40 p.m. last night as it was headed to Atlantic City, and all seven passengers died. The plane erupted into a fireball over Hanscom Field, and the blast shook nearby homes, according to Philly.com.
Katz was a distinguished Penn State alumnus who donated $15 million to Penn State for the construction of the law building, and just gained control of the Philadelphia media outlets on Tuesday after he bought out his partners for $88 million.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Lewis Katz,” said Jim Houck, interim dean of the Law School. “Countless lives have been improved thanks to his good work. We are proud of not only all that he has accomplished in his life but of the spirit of generosity and caring that he shared with so many organizations.”
Born and raised in Camden, N.J., Katz obtained his undergraduate degree from Temple, never thinking he would receive an award from Penn State. “The only time I had been to Penn State was to see my girlfriend!” Katz once said. After starting his own law firm, he owned parts of the then-New York Nets, New Jersey Devils and New York Yankees. The Yankees’ YES Network and the Kinney Parking empire garnered a great deal of money for Katz as well. It was announced this month that Temple’s School of Medicine is to be named for Katz, who served on its Board of Trustees and donated $25 million to the school.
“I’m very grateful and feel very privileged to have been so lucky,” Katz said regarding his business ventures. “I know I was lucky.”
Our thoughts are with friends and family of Katz during this unfortunate time.