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Philadelphia Inquirer co-owner, wife of a New Jersey borough commissioner dies in plane crash

By The Associated Press

This article was originally published June 1, 2014 at 9:32 a.m. Updated June 1, 2014 at 11:00 a.m.

PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia Inquirer co-owner Lewis Katz was killed along with six other people in a fiery plane crash in Massachusetts, his business partner said Sunday.

Harold H.F. "Gerry" Lenfest confirmed Katz's death to The Associated Press, saying he was informed by their lawyer, Richard Sprague. The crash came just days after Katz and Lenfest gained full control of The Inquirer by buying out their co-owners for $88 million in a deal that ended an ugly monthslong feud among the partners.

The Gulfstream IV crashed as it was leaving Hanscom Field at about 9:40 p.m. Saturday for Atlantic City, New Jersey. There were no survivors.

Family members say the wife of a New Jersey borough commissioner was among seven dead in a plane crash that also killed the co-owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

James P. Leeds Sr. tells The Associated Press that his 74-year-old wife, Anne, died Saturday night in the Massachusetts crash. James serves on the board of commissioners in Longport, a resort town in southern New Jersey.

Leeds says he got a text from his wife from the plane at 9:36 p.m., four minutes before the crash.

He says his wife had been invited by Inquirer co-owner Lewis Katz to attend an education-related function. They left Longport at about 2 p.m.

The identities of the other victims weren't immediately released. Nancy Phillips, Katz's longtime companion and city editor at the Inquirer, was not on board.

Officials gave no information on the cause of the crash. They said the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate.

When bidding on the company, which also operates the Philadelphia Daily News and the news website Philly.com. Katz and Lenfest vowed to fund in-depth journalism to return the Inquirer to its former glory and to retain its editor, Bill Marimow.

"It's going to be a lot of hard work. We're not kidding ourselves. It's going to be an enormous undertaking," Katz said then, noting that advertising and circulation revenues had fallen for years. "Hopefully, (the Inquirer) will get fatter."

Katz, who grew up in Camden, New Jersey, made his fortune investing in the Kinney Parking empire and the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network in New York. He once owned the NBA's New Jersey Nets and the NHL's New Jersey Devils and was a major donor to Temple University, his alma mater.

The plane crashed and caught fire as it was leaving Hanscom Field while on its way to Atlantic City.

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