Inquirer Editorial: Katz never forgot his roots

Lewis Katz was committed to young people and journalism.
Lewis Katz was committed to young people and journalism. (DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff)
Posted: June 03, 2014

The tragic death of Lewis Katz, a co-owner of The Inquirer's parent company, has robbed the Philadelphia region and the country of a generous soul.

Katz, 72, who died in a fiery plane crash Saturday night, never forgot his humble roots in Camden even as he amassed a fortune that he never minded sharing with a worthy cause. The longtime board member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America had a particular interest in encouraging young people.

In a recent commencement speech at Temple University, where he earned a biology degree in 1963 and served as a trustee, Katz recounted growing up without a father and putting himself through college while his mother made ends meet on a secretary's salary. Katz announced plans to give $25 million to Temple's School of Medicine and was awarded an honorary doctorate.

Penn State's Dickinson School of Law also claims Katz as an alumnus and benefactor. He cofounded the law firm of Katz, Ettin, & Levine, but business eventually supplanted law as his vocation. The Kinney Parking Systems executive was an owner of the New Jersey Nets basketball team and New Jersey Devils hockey team. The former Camden County freeholder was also at one time South Jersey's most powerful politician.

Twice, Katz came to the rescue of this newspaper. In 2012, he was part of the investor group that bought the The Inquirer, the Daily News, and Philly.com from the hedge fund that acquired it in a bankruptcy auction. And just last week, Katz and fellow philanthropist H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest made the winning bid to purchase the company and end a bitter feud among its owners over its future direction.

In a statement to readers published Sunday, Lenfest and Katz shared their desire that the paper "cover subjects that matter most to our readers" and "provide reporting, analysis, and commentary that are accurate, thorough, and fair. Each time those goals are met, it will pay tribute to the memory of a great man.

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