Anyone who’s shared a conference table with Lewis Katz knows the imposing shadow the man could cast over a boardroom. Topping out at a lanky 6’2″, his frame often clad in a suit that cost more than a used Hyundai, it often felt as if Katz, a man who had intermittently owned pieces of the New Jersey Nets, the New York Yankees, and the Philadelphia Inquirer, was more skyscraper than human being.
Only time will tell if Drew Katz, tall like his father, has what it takes to lead Philadelphia’s largest newspapers into the future without his dad around.
Lewis Katz is gone, dead at 72 after his private jet crashed at an airfield outside of Boston on Sunday less than a week after he’d won an auction to purchase the Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com for $88 million with billionaire philanthropist H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest. Lenfest confirmed to the Inquirer on Sunday that Katz’s son, Drew will assume his father’s position with the company moving forward. The younger Katz was thrust into the spotlight yesterday as he delivered an emotional eulogy at the moving memorial services for his father.
Due to a warped and deeply disturbing twist of fate, Drew Katz, a business mogul and philanthropist in his own right, has become one of the most powerful men in Philadelphia media almost overnight. Here’s what we know about him so far.
He’s Been Following in His Dad’s Footsteps
At 42, Drew Katz has, for all intents and purposes, largely been following in his father’s footsteps his entire life. The pair both earned law degrees from prestigious universities: The elder graduated from Dickinson, while Drew earned a J.D. from the Stanford University School of Law. At the moment, Drew Katz’s main day job appears to be running Interstate Outdoor Advertising, a Cherry Hill-based billboard and outdoor advertising firm that his father founded in 1984. A call to Interstate, which — according to its website — advertises in eight media markets across the United States from Atlantic City to San Francisco, was not returned.
He’s a Philanthropist With a Penchant for Working with Celebrities
The Katz family has made a massive commitment to charity, and Drew Katz is no exception. Founder and CEO of the Drew A. Katz Foundation, which claims to have donated more than $1,000,000 to non-profit organizations since its inception in 2003, Katz has made a habit of leveraging his celebrity connections to help raise money for the causes he cares deeply about.
In 2010, the Katz Foundation sponsored a free screening of LENNONYC, a PBS documentary that chronicles former Beatle John Lennon’s time in New York City with his wife, Yoko Ono. Here is Katz onstage with Ono and then-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in 2010:
In 2011, the Katz Foundation helped to organize the Newark Peace Education Summit, a three-day conference that saw celebrities including Deepak Chopra, Martin Luther King III, Goldie Hawn, then-Newark Mayor Corey Booker, and the Dalai Lama waxing poetic about world peace in a panel-type setting.
Oprah was apparently a massive fan of Katz’s involvement with the summit: O Magazine included Katz on its 2011 “O Wow!” list, which honored the “achievers whose breakthrough ideas took our breath away” that year, alongside sex columnist Dan Savage, actor Edward Norton, and — somewhat inexplicably — Björk.
Philanthropy seems to have permeated every facet of Katz’s life: Last year, he married Rachel Snyder, a lawyer for the Door, a nonprofit that provides social assistance to New York City youth.
He Isn’t Shy With His Money
That being said, Katz doesn’t exactly live like a Shinto priest, either. That wedding last year, held at the Breakers in Palm Beach, reportedly cost in excess of $1.5 million, and ended in heart-shaped fireworks over the beach. In attendance were the likes of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Oprah’s Sergeant Major Gayle King, and Booker.
Since 2007, Katz has operated from a SoHo penthouse that would make Robin Leach blush: After he and his then-girlfriend bought the place for more than $6 million in 2007, Katz reportedly had a painting of his own face installed over the guest bed. The apartment is currently listed for sale at just under $20 million.
He’s in the Spotlight Now
Mainly, Katz is now a man that finds himself in one of the most powerful seats in Philadelphia following what can only be described as an incomprehensible tragedy for both his family and the city as a whole. He deserves the time to grieve, as any child that has had his or her father ripped from them in such unfathomable circumstance does, but there will be scrutiny on the younger Katz’s decision-making within a few weeks’ time.
Perhaps Katz can channel his own namesake: His father named him after legendary Washington columnist Drew Pearson, a tough-as-nails — and occasionally controversial — 1940s journalist who, when government officials bullied him, threatened him, and quite literally beat him into the ground, refused to quiet down.