On Saturday night, philanthropist and publishing magnate Lewis Katz died suddenly in a tragic plane crash near Boston, MA. Apparently exploding upon takeoff, the plane was never airborne says the National Transportation Safety Board.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that debris spread 2,000 feet and residents there near Hanscome airfield in Bedford, MA, 20 miles northwest of Boston, described a loud explosion.
Driving in the area with his girlfriend, 32 year-old Cambridge resident Greg Rubin tells Philadelphia Weekly he smelled a heavy, plastic odor around the time of the crash, even over a dozen miles away. At first, he wasn’t aware of the explosion and thought it was his car.
“I began to worry that it was my car producing the odor,” says Rubin, but it persisted throughout the night in another car he drove later on. Only upon listening to the news did he learn of the tragedy and connected it to the crash.
Just last week, Katz made headlines after happily winning the private auction of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and Philly.com. His joint bid with H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest ended the latest protracted battle for the future of Philadelphia’s papers of record. The same night of the crash, several journalists of the Philadelphia Daily News were accepting the Pennsylvania Newsmedia Association's prestigious Sweepstakes award in State College, PA.
“Lewis Katz was a philanthropist and a decent man,” said Philadelphia Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky in a Facebook post. “I mourn his loss and extend sympathy to his family.”
In a statement released, co-owner Lenfest said that Katz was a “true friend.” “We all deeply mourn the loss” of Lewis Katz. Quickly, questions began swirling about yet another question facing the media conglomerate. Lenfest quickly put these at ease informing readers and media that “Drew Katz, Lewis’ son, will replace his father on the board of our new company.”
Philadelphia Inquirer editor-in-chief Bill Marimow remembered Katz fondly, saying that Katz “enriched the lives of everyone he came in contact with…We’ve lost a great friend.” Marimow, whose leadership of the flagship newspaper was a point of serious contention between Katz and Lenfest and now-ousted partner George Norcross, went on to say that Katz was a true Philadelphian.
“[He] never forgot his friends or his roots, giving back generously” to “Temple University…and countless other organizations.”
A memorial will be held on Wednesday at Temple University.