Penn State Community Remembers Lewis Katz

By Mallory Lane

Published 06/02 2014 05:37PM

Updated 06/02 2014 06:11PM

PENN STATE, UNIVERSITY PARK - A distinguished Penn State alumnus is dead after a fiery plane crash in Massachusetts Saturday claimed his life and six others.

Lewis Katz was a Penn State Law School graduate and philanthropist who gave the university millions of dollars.

As the investigation into what happened to cause the crash continues Monday, the Penn State community is mourning his loss.

"He was a man that at any moment in time, just completely full of life and ideas and energy," Rod Kirsch, Senior Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations at Penn State, said. "He was always planning the next thing he was going to do in life."

Kirsch remembers meeting Katz for the first time.

"He was interested in you as a person and he asked me about my background, he connected the dots," Kirsch said. "He had an amazing way of finding commonalities of people and where there was a connection."

Katz graduated from Penn State's Dickinson School of Law in 1965. In 2004, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award. Katz donated millions to Penn State. His name is on two university facilities.

"He's clearly one of the most honored and decorated alumna that we have in our entire Penn State family," Kirsch said.

Katz was the co-owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The National Transportation Safety Board is at the scene of Saturday's crash, trying to figure out what happened by reviewing a cockpit voice recorder and surveillance video.

"We'll be gathering information about the pilots, their background and experience," NTSB Investigator Luke Schiada said. "We'll be reviewing the aircraft's maintenance history."

Katz was on the jet with three friends and three crew members when it plowed through a fence during takeoff, plunged down an embankment and burst into flames. All seven people on board died.

Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell said Katz invited him on the flight.

"He asked me twice last week to go with him," Rendell said. "I knew I had to get up early to give this speech, so I said no. I could have been on that plan. I can't tell you, I can't calculate how big a loss this is for us, for us as a community."

Penn State does not have plans to commemorate Katz just yet. They said they will respect the family's wishes when the time comes to do so.

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