PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell said Sunday that Philadelphia Inquirer co-owner Lewis Katz invited him on the doomed flight that crashed, killing seven.
Rendell said Katz tried to persuade him Friday to attend an event at historian Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Massachusetts home, but he had another commitment.
Katz, a 72-year-old business mogul, and six others were returning home to New Jersey on Saturday night when the plane crashed on takeoff. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating what may have caused the crash.
The former Democratic governor said Katz died at “maybe the high point of his life.” Katz was thrilled this week after he and a partner won an $88 million auction for the Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News, Rendell said.
The plane gave Katz the ability to be spontaneous, deciding on a moment’s notice to call friends to join him for an out-of-state function or sporting event, Rendell said. He had flown with Katz about two dozen times since leaving office in 2011, including a recent trip to Los Angeles.
“He had this uncommon gift of having fun and making people around him have fun,” Rendell said.
Katz employed two full-time pilots and a flight attendant, Rendell said.
“The reason I’m mystified is those pilots maintained the plane like it was their life and death,” Rendell said.
He said his close friend also practiced smaller, unheralded moments of charity. Katz once bought his employee at Kinney Parking a house so he could move to a better New York neighborhood, and he quietly left $100 tips for waitresses at a boardwalk breakfast spot, Rendell said.
“People say, ‘Well, he only does things to get his name on buildings.’ That couldn’t be further from the truth.”