The Temple University football team will honor philanthropist Lewis Katz this season with commemorative “Lew” decals on players’ helmets. Katz, a ’62 Temple and ’66 Dickinson Law graduate, died in a plane crash three months ago.
“Lewis Katz was a tremendous leader, supporter, and believer in Temple and Temple athletics,” said Temple head football coach Matt Rhule. “His impact is missed both here on campus and throughout the communities he touched with his many business and philanthropic endeavors. I wish he was with us here at the game. These decals are just one way for us to let people know he’s always with us.”
Since graduating from Temple University and the Dickinson School of Law, Katz made generous contributions to both institutions. Katz recently donated $25 million to Temple’s medical school and also made a $15 million gift to the Dickinson School of Law in 2007, one of the single largest acts of philanthropy in Penn State’s history.
Penn State’s law school buildings in both University Park and Carlisle bear Katz’s name.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Lewis Katz,” said Jim Houck, interim dean of Penn State’s law school. “Countless lives have been improved thanks to his good work. We are proud of not only what he has accomplished in his life but of the spirit of generosity and caring that he shared with so many organizations.”
Back in 2004, Katz said at the Distinguished Alumni Awards Ceremony that he never thought he would receive an award from Penn State. He graduated first in his class at the Dickinson School of Law three decades before it merged with Penn State.
“The only time I had been to Penn State was to see my girlfriend,” Katz said, referring to visits with Marjorie — a 1965 graduate who later became his wife.
Following his graduation from law school, he clerked for Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice John C. Bell, Jr. He then founded Cherry Hill-based law firm Katz, Ettin & Levine before turning to business, where he made much of his fortune as owner of Kinney Parking Systems, the largest parking company in New York City, and chairman of Interstate Outdoor Advertising, one of the largest regional outdoor-advertising firms in the country.
Katz was an owner of the New Jersey Nets and New Jersey Devils and served as a member of the Board of Governors of the National Basketball Association. He was also a shareholder of the New York Yankees, donating a share of his profits in these enterprises to causes benefiting inner city youth.
Shortly before his death, he acquired ownership of The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Philadelphia Daily News, and Philly.com for $88 million. It was hoped that the deal would finally bring stability to the Philadelphia media company.
Katz served on the Board of Trustees of Temple University and was a member of the Board of Counselors of The Dickinson School of Law.