Friday, April 17, 2015

Doris Kearns Goodwin recalls Lewis Katz's last day

The historian Doris Kearns Goodwin (left) recalls the last day of Inquirer co-owner Lewis Katz, her friend of 20 years who she describes as improbably boyish and blessed with the timing of a Catskills comic.
The historian Doris Kearns Goodwin (left) recalls the last day of Inquirer co-owner Lewis Katz, her friend of 20 years who she describes as improbably boyish and blessed with the timing of a Catskills comic.

The historian Doris Kearns Goodwin recalls the last day of Inquirer co-owner Lewis Katz in the Boston Sunday Globe. 

The piece, headlined "One last night among friends" and stripped atop the Metro section,  begins: 

When Doris Kearns Goodwin glances out the window of her study, she still sees Lewis Katz laughing with other guests on the sun-splashed lawn. When she walks down the hall, she envisions her good friend standing there, chatting with students and pulling a book from his pocket: “On the Shortness of Life.”

The slim paperback Katz had just started carrying was an appeal against wasted days by the Roman philosopher Seneca, arguing that a man who learns to live with purpose and meaning “will not hesitate . . . to meet death with steady step.”

The reporter, Eric Moskowitz, visited with Goodwin at her home in Concord. On May 31, Katz had traveled there with three friends for a benefit to support an interdisciplinary educational non-profit created by Goodwin's son Michael. Katz and his friends were among seven people killed later that evening when their jet crashed at nearby Hanscom Field during takeoff.

More coverage
  • Feds: Pilots on Katz plane tried to stop takeoff
  • Students pay tribute to KATZ Academy cofounder
  • Goodwin describes her friend of 20 years as improbably boyish and blessed with the timing of a Catskills comic.

    Katz and his guests - Susan Asbell, a childhood friend,  Marcella Dalsey, head of the Drew Katz Foundation and co-founder of the Katz Academy Charter School in Camden and Anne Leeds, a neighbor and retired preschool teacher - arrived at the party just after 4. 

    Katz gravitated to the students, while Goodwin gave the women a tour of her home - a bronze bust of Lincoln,  artifacts from her husband, Richard's, days with Lyndon Johnson and the Kennedys and his run as political editor at Rolling Stone.

    As the party wound down, Katz continued to listen and talk with the teens — giving them his contact information, introducing them to Seneca — before a small group made plans to reconvene for dinner at the nearby Colonial Inn.

    On the way to Concord Center, Katz detoured to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, wanting to show the three women “Authors Ridge,” a serenely wooded hilltop where the Alcott, Hawthorne, Emerson, and Thoreau family plots are clustered.

    “He wanted to give the three guests an adventure,” make their visit memorable, Goodwin said.

    Their dinner in town was described as particularly joyous, 10 people gathered around the table, swapping seats and stories. 

    Katz, who had prevailed just days earlier after a long legal slog over control of the Inquirer’s parent company, brimmed with enthusiasm over the outcome.

    “It was a good time to be with him, because he was so exuberant about everything,” she said.

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