Hundreds Pay Tribute To Philadelphia Inquirer Co-Owner Lewis Kat - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Hundreds Pay Tribute To Philadelphia Inquirer Co-Owner Lewis Katz

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A who's who of politics, business and sports elite joined hundreds of mourners to remember philanthropist and Philadelphia Inquirer co-owner Lewis Katz on Wednesday.

Katz,72, was one of the 7 victims who died in the plane crash Saturday night in Bedford, Massachusetts.

Fox 29’s Bruce Gordon reports.

When you attend a memorial service for an accomplished person, you are likely to hear the expression: "a life well-lived."

Well, that expression hardly does justice to Lewis Katz: the poor, fatherless kid from Camden, whose business skills made him a wealthy man, and whose passion made him one of our region's great charitable givers.

People packed Temple University's Performing Arts Center, the rich and famous from the many worlds of Lewis Katz.

They came to pay tribute to a man who rose to great heights, but stayed true to his humble roots.

"When God gives you the gift and you make money, you give it back. You help people, and that's what he did," said Jerry Blavat, legendary DJ and friend of Katz.

Katz made his money as a lawyer, a parking lot magnate and owner of the New Jersey Nets and Devils.

He then spent years giving it away to charter schools and Boys and Girls Clubs in his hometown of Camden, and to his beloved Alma Mater, Temple University.

"Once in a while, altogether too rarely in life, someone lives and just exudes, just pouring out of every pore in their skin, such goodwill and energy and joy that they create this magnetic field. It draws all the rest of us in," said former president Bill Clinton.

With every tale of Katz' generosity, came another of his passion for life.

Ed Rendell remembered a call from his wife Midge aboard Katz' private jet when Katz decided on a whim that they should see Mount Rushmore.

"He ordered the pilot to take off for South Dakota.' I said, 'He did what?,' said Rendell. "If you were a friend of Lewis Katz, you used the term, 'He did what?' an awful lot."

Katz’s children remembered his as a doting father, so full of love, always ready to create lasting memories.

"My daddy, my love, who I am convinced, hung the moon, just for me. I will miss you beyond measure," said his daughter Melissa Silver.

Taking it all in from the balcony in an audience full of successful people at the height of their game was the disgraced former president of Penn State University, Graham Spanier.

"He was always a good friend, but in a time of adversity. If Lewis was your friend, he held you even closer," said Spanier.

The first time we were all three together, they made me play Nerf basketball in their office building. I did not win."

Comedian and fellow alum Bill Cosby urged mourners to keep that spirit alive.

"Lewis Katz put the money up. He's gone. But his life lives, not his name on the wall, in what you do with the gift," said Cosby.

Katz had just won a bidding war for Philly's two major newspapers at the time of his death.

Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin was among the last to see him hours before the plane crash.

"His negotiations for control of the Philadelphia Inquirer had just been completed. A great adventure lay before him. He told me he felt like a young boy again, ready to throw himself into the world of journalism," said Goodwin.

Now he's gone, leaving a gap wound in the hearts of his beloved children.

"If all I did was stand before you and cried, what greater honor could I bestow upon my beloved father?" said son Drew Katz.

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