Lewis Katz honored at memorial service on Temple University campus
Lewis Katz measured his life by memories.
Waking his son, Drew, at 10 p.m. on a school night when he was in his early teens to whisk him away to a party to meet his heroes from the Philadelphia Eagles was intended to leave an imprint.
The same reason he took three waiters who served him regularly in Florida with him every year to the Bahamas. Same reason he would take his best friends from Camden on an adventure every year. And it was because he wanted their time, his son said. He wanted to create an indelible mark that neither money, nor power could carve.
“My dad’s best business success was in the business of making memories,” Drew said Wednesday.
Katz — a Camden native, 1963 Temple graduate, lawyer, businessman, philanthropist — was honored Wednesday with a memorial service attended by some of the most powerful local and national politicians and dignitaries at the Temple Performing Arts Center on North Broad Street.
Katz, 72 — well known for his generosity and philanthropy efforts across the county but especially in Philadelphia — died in a plane crash Saturday night just days after he and H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest successfully bid for controlling interest in the parent company that publishes the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com.
His son Drew, who will now assume his father’s role as co-owner of the media company, spoke passionately about his relationship with his father.
“I am heartbroken,” Drew said. “My father prepared me for everything in life, except for this.”
He regaled the crowd with stories that illustrated his father’s influence in his life as a guardian, role model, mentor and best friend. He called his father, “a force of nature.”
“Daddy, I could never fill your shoes but I will walk in your path,” Drew said.
The event also included speeches by former Pa. Gov. Ed Rendell, current Gov. Tom Corbett, Mayor Michael Nutter, U.S. Sen. Cory A. Booker (D-NJ), Philadelphia Flyers owner Ed Snider, actor/comedian and Temple alumnus Bill Cosby, and a former U.S. president.
President Bill Clinton described Katz, whom he met while fundraising for his political campaigns, as a magnet that drew people into his fun-loving persona. Clinton said the two became close friends and maintained that friendship throughout their lives.
On a visit to the White House, Clinton said, Katz and Rendell forced him to play a game of Nerf basketball. “I didn’t win,” he said.
Clinton said Katz brought him countless amounts of joy and encouragement and memories.
“Thank you Lew Katz for what you did for me,” Clinton said, “for never giving up in the darkest hour, and for making sure we had a damn good time.”
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