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Newspaper co-owner remembered as serious, impish

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 4, 2014 at 3:40 pm •  Published: June 4, 2014

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Lewis Katz was a savvy businessman and philanthropist. He was also mischievous, spontaneous and full of boyish fun.

Politicians, athletes and grieving family members recalled both sides of the Philadelphia newspaper co-owner at a 2 1/2-hour memorial service Wednesday.

Katz, 72, and six others died Saturday when his private plane crashed while trying to take off near Boston. The cause remains under investigation.

Days earlier, the sports team owner-turned-philanthropist had won an $88 million bidding war for the company that operates The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News.

The hundreds of mourners who gathered Wednesday reflected the incredible scope of Katz's life.

They included ex-President Bill Clinton, professional athletes Shane Victorino and Dikembe Mutombo, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, Comcast Corp. chairman Brian Roberts, comedian Bill Cosby, and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.

"In the most unluckiest of times, ironically enough, I can't feel luckier," Katz's daughter Melissa Silver said.

Raised by his widowed mother in working-class Camden, New Jersey, Katz rose to become a co-owner of the New Jersey Nets and New Jersey Devils. He made his fortune in parking lots, billboards and a sports cable TV network. He gave away millions, including $25 million to Temple University, which had given him a scholarship to attend college, and $15 million to Penn State's Dickinson School of Law, where he graduated first in his class.

Along the way, he took a favorite New York cashier to the Super Bowl, brought Boca Raton waiters gambling in the Bahamas and treated high school friends on annual retreats.

"He never forgot people who started, as he did, with nothing," Clinton said. "It bothered him that anybody with any dream would be left out or left behind."

Clinton recalled being at an event when tennis star Andre Agassi described the school he opened in a low-income Las Vegas neighborhood. Katz instantly pledged to fund one in Camden.

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