"Lewis Katz, 72, co-owner of The Inquirer, The Philadelphia Daily News and Philly.com, died Saturday night in the crash of a private jet at a Massachusetts airfield.
"All seven people aboard were killed when the Gulfstream IV crashed about 9:40 p.m. as it was departing Hanscom Field in Bedford for Atlantic City International Airport, said a Massachusetts Port Authority spokesman.
"The jet never became airborne, a National Transportation Safety Board official said Sunday. Instead, it rolled off the runway and onto the glass before striking an antenna and a fence, coming to rest in a gully where it burst into flames, said Luke Schiada, a senior air safety investigator.
"Debris spread over 2,000 feet. Schiada said officials were looking for the flight data recorder and black box to determine what went wrong.
"The names of the flight crew were not released.
"Nancy Phillips, Katz's longtime companion and The Inquirer's city editor, was not on the plane.
"Neither was former Gov. Ed Rendell. A shaken Rendell said he'd been invited by Katz to make the trip Saturday but declined because of a speaking engagement.
"Lauded Sunday by scholars and governors, sports owners and entertainers -- as well as a former U.S. president -- Katz made his fortune investing in Kinney Parking and the Yankees Entertainment & Sports (YES) Network in New York.
"He owned the NBA's New Jersey Nets and the NHL's New Jersey Devils.
"'That guy did a lot with his heart,' former president Bill Clinton said Sunday. 'I'll never forget that as long as I live.'
"Katz was a major donor to Temple University, his alma mater -- he pledged $25 million to the school last fall -- and a philanthropist with an abiding interest in education.
"It was his commitment to learning that brought Katz to Massachusetts Saturday afternoon, friends said, as he attended a fund-raising event in Concord, Mass. at the home of historian Doris Kearns Goodwin and her husband, Richard Goodwin, an adviser to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson."
The Boston Globe's Eric Moskowitz and Joshua Miller say the fund-raising event was a "nationwide launch of an interdisciplinary program for teachersthat Michael Goodwin developed out of a school-within-a-school he created as a Concord-Carlisle educator."
Doris Kearns Goowin told The Boston Globe about her last meeting with Katz.
"Afterward we all went to dinner, where we talked at length about our shared passions for sports and journalism, politics and history. The last thing he said to me upon leaving for the plane was that most of all we shared was our love and pride for our children.
"I have lost a great friend, his family lost a a great father and grandfather, and the country has lost a great man."
Forty-year-old witness Jennifer Davies described the crash as "absolutely horrific" in a separate Boston Globeupdate.
"I heard a plane take off, which is normal and something we hear all the time. But then there was a small boom, and I heard the plane accelerate more. The engines really revved up. It just started screeching. Then there was a huge, gigantic explosion and I couldn't hear the engines anymore.
"Every time it would hit something, I would hear another explosion, then red embers and debris and things would fly up into the air. It was absolutely horrific."
New York Yankees principal owner Hal Steinbrenner grieved over Katz's passing, per a statement secured by ESPN.
"The New York Yankees are deeply saddened by the tragic passing of Lewis Katz last night. We would like to express our deepest, heartfelt sympathies to his family.
"Lewis was a minority owner of the Yankees and a valued, long-time friend and colleague to so many of us within the organization. We will cherish his sense of humor, intellect, and deep sense of philanthropy. Lewis had a huge heart and was always there when someone needed help. He will forever be remembered."
The same report mentions Katz bought the Nets in 1998. He was the team's owner during its successful years of 2002 and 2003, when it made consecutive NBA Finals appearances against the Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs, respectively. Katz would eventually sell the team in 2004.
His wife Marjorie passed away in Dec. 2013. Katz is survived by "his son, daughter Melissa and several grandchildren," per ESPN.
For more of the hottest sports news, log on to Sport Balla today.