H.F. Lenfest, Philanthropist and Owner of Philadelphia’s Newspapers, Dies at 88


Mr. Lenfest and a fellow investor, Lewis Katz, agreed in 2014 to pay $88 million to buy the Philadelphia publications. Just days after the purchase, Mr. Katz died in a plane crash.

In 2016, Mr. Lenfest announced that he had donated the three news outlets to a new nonprofit that he created, the Institute for Journalism in New Media, which later was renamed the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.

Mr. Lenfest said the move was intended to extend the publications’ longevity in a new digital age.

“My goal is to ensure that the journalism traditionally provided by the printed newspapers is given a new life and prolonged, while new media formats for its distribution are being developed,” Mr. Lenfest said. “Of all of the ventures I have been involved with in my life, nothing is more important than preserving the journalism that has been delivered by these storied news organizations.”

He stepped down as chairman of the institute in 2017, and Mr. Boardman took his place.

By investing in the future of those news outlets in Philadelphia, Mr. Lenfest helped create a way for local journalism to exist and possibly be replicated in other parts of the country, Mr. Boardman said.

Harold FitzGerald Lenfest was born on May 29, 1930, in Jacksonville, Fla., the son of Harold C. Lenfest and Herrena FitzGerald Lenfest. Mr. Lenfest was known as Gerry because he wanted a common man’s name, Mr. Stein said.

When Mr. Lenfest was 13, the family moved to a farm near Lambertville, N.J. He went to Flemington High School and graduated from Mercersburg Academy in Pennsylvania.

Mr. Lenfest graduated from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., with a degree in economics in 1953, served in the United States Navy, attained the rank of captain, and graduated from Columbia Law School. He married Marguerite in 1955, when she was a senior in college.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Lenfest is survived by his children Diane Lenfest Myer, H. Chase Lenfest and Brook Lenfest; sisters Marie Schmitz and Lauren Lenfest, and brother Robin Lenfest; and grandchildren Alexa Lenfest, Chase A. Lenfest, Olivia Myer and William Myer.


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