Thursday night's event at the African American Museum in Philadelphia, which was to have marked the 10th anniversary of the radio station, was quickly refocused to honor Dr. Lomax.
"The timing of Dr. Lomax's passing on the 10-year anniversary of 900-AM WURD, the voice of the black community in Philadelphia, is particularly tragic," City Council President Darrell L. Clarke said Thursday.
"Like so many, I was looking forward to helping the WURD family celebrate this important milestone. Instead, I join Dr. Lomax's wife, children, and all who knew and were inspired by him in mourning."
Mayor Nutter said he knew and respected Dr. Lomax for more than 30 years.
"He was an historical figure in Philadelphia and a skilled, compassionate doctor who improved the lives and health of many people," the mayor said in a statement.
"In addition to his work in the health-care field, Dr. Lomax was a great businessman, philanthropist, and supporter of many worthy causes: minority business development, educational attainment, and artistic and cultural institutions," the mayor said.
In a statement released Thursday evening, U.S. Rep. Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.) said: "Dr. Lomax was a successful physician, businessman, philanthropist, and lover of art who never forgot the community from which he came. He will be remembered for his constant support of his community. And he leaves a lasting legacy of service and good works."
Dr. Lomax was best known as chairman of the Lomax Cos., the corporate parent for four business entities: the real estate investment firm Lomax Real Estate Partners; the technology firms Prime Image and MyArtistDNA; and Wurd Radio, which runs WURD. The firm is based in Chalfont.
According to a biography posted on phillyburbs.com, Dr. Lomax was the youngest of four children born in South Philadelphia. Schooled at La Salle University and Hahnemann Medical College, he opened his first office at a rowhouse in his neighborhood in 1958; the practice grew over 30 years to include 22 physicians in six offices providing a range of medical care, the website said.
In 1983, Dr. Lomax was asked to help recruit doctors to work in Philadelphia's prison system, which led to the creation of the private health-care provider Correctional Healthcare Solutions, according to phillyburbs.com.
"The company rode the wave of privatization of medical care in prisons, and by the end of the 1990s, it provided health care to inmates in more than 70 correctional facilities in 10 states," the website said.
Dr. Lomax sold Correctional Healthcare Solutions in 2000. He ran AmeriChoice, which operated health maintenance organizations in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, until selling it to United Health Group Co. in 2002, the website said.
Dr. Lomax was also interested in other types of enterprises. He was a partner in PHL Local Gaming, a partnership trying to secure a license to operate a casino in South Philadelphia.
His partner on that project, Casino Revolution, was Joseph Procacci, owner of Procacci Bros., a major fruit and vegetable wholesale business. Dr. Lomax would have controlled 12.3 percent of the project.
"Over the past year, I have had the great opportunity to work very closely with Dr. Lomax," Procacci said. "He was a very special person who was blessed to have a wonderfully supportive family. He was a business leader, a pioneer in the medical profession, a philanthropist, and an acknowledged Philadelphia institution."
Nutter said he traveled with Dr. Lomax to West Africa on business in 1985.
"He was a great friend and an inspiration in my work," the mayor said. "His wife, Beverly, and their children represent the finest in community engagement and service to others. Dr. Lomax set a very high example for us all to follow, and I will miss him deeply."
Marilyn Kai Jewett, a principal in Progressive Images Marketing/Communications, called Dr. Lomax "a great man - humble, giving and, most of all, conscious" of his identity as an African American.
"When I was a reporter for the Philadelphia New Observer, I covered a meeting where he gave $10,000 to support the case for African American reparations," she said in an e-mail. "This was just one of the issues he supported.
"When Cody Anderson had problems keeping WURD afloat, Dr. Lomax stepped in and bought the station so we would continue to have an independent black talk voice on the air."
Dr. Lomax opted to invest in the casino proposal "to assure our community had some ownership," she wrote.
Acel Moore, Inquirer associate editor emeritus and a friend who knew Dr. Lomax from the old neighborhood, Point Breeze, said he came from humble roots and never forgot them. "He shined shoes on Point Breeze Avenue when I was a little boy," Moore recalled. Later, the two met for dinner and talked about "routine things."
"I've met a lot of people, but I can't think of another person I respected more," Moore said.
His daughter said Dr. Lomax was "an amazing father and an amazing human being."
Survivors include his wife; daughters Sara, Claire, and Laura; and sons Bennett, W. Thomas, and Charles.
Funeral arrangements were pending.
Inquirer staff writers Jennifer Lin and Vernon Clark contributed to this article.