Lewis Katz
Businessman, publisher, philanthropist
Born: January 11, 1942, in Camden, New Jersey
Died: May 31, 2014, in Bedford, Massachusetts
New Jersey Hall of Fame, Class of 2015: Enterprise

The Lewis Katz story is one of hard work, extraordinary success, equally amazing generosity, and, alas, tragedy.

Katz was born poor. His father died when Katz and his sister were young. The siblings were raised in the Parkside section of Camden by their mother, a secretary at RCA. Always a diligent worker, Katz earned a bachelor of science degree in biology from Temple University, and went on to finish first in his class at the Dickinson School of Law.

As a lawyer and businessman, Katz earned millions in a variety of endeavors. He was a former owner of Kinney Parking Systems, at the time the largest parking company in New York City. He was the former chairman of Interstate Outdoor Advertising, one of the largest regional outdoor-advertising firms in the country. He also was the majority owner of five radio stations in Atlantic and Cape May counties, and a founding partner of the law firm Katz, Ettin & Levine in Cherry Hill.

In 2000, Katz invested in what were then the two major New Jersey-branded sports franchises—the basketball Nets and hockey’s Devils. He was part-owner of both pro teams until each was sold in 2003. He was also co-owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com.

But Katz’s success is measured as much by what he gave away as by what he earned. As the founder and director of the Katz Foundation he provided millions in support for charitable, educational and medical-related causes. In his New Jersey Hall of Fame induction speech for Katz, Senator Cory Booker described his friend as “one of our state’s great philanthropists.”

To support pioneering medical research, Katz established an annual prize and endowed a visiting professorship in cardiovascular research at Columbia University. Katz initiated several programs to help children in his hometown, including establishing the Boys and Girls Clubs of Camden. He pledged $25 million to his alma mater, Temple, making it the largest single donation in school history. He also made a $15 million gift to the Dickinson Schools of Law of the Pennsylvania State University.

Katz also was a prominent donor to Jewish organizations, including the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey, Congregation Beth El in Voorhees, and the National Museum of Jewish History in Philadelphia.

The father of two, Katz died when his private plane crashed upon takeoff at a small airport outside Boston.

Intro/Acceptance Video