Temple University Trustee H.F. ‘Gerry’ Lenfest passed away Sunday. He was 88 years old.
Mr. Lenfest and his wife, Marguerite are known around campus for many generous gifts to the university, including a donation of $5.5 million to renovate Temple’s historic boathouse on Kelly Drive, a seven figure donation to rename the School of Media and Communication as the Klein College, and establishing the Lew Klein Excellence in the Media Awards and scholarship program in honor of their friend, Lew Klein.
In May of 2017, Temple University announced a project at the Bell Tower that would honor Mr. Lenfest. The area was re-lanscaped and is known as Lenfest Circle. The project is a part of the university’s Verdant Temple plan.
Mr. Lenfest, has left his mark not only at Temple University, but across the city of Philadelphia.
According to Philly.com, the Lenfests have given over $1.3 billion to 1,100 organizations, including educational, athletic, and arts programs.
In 2014, Mr. Lenfest purchased the company that ran the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Daily News, and Philly.com. By January 2016, Lenfest donated the Philadelphia Media Network to the Institute for Journalism in New Media, a non-profit now known as the Lenfest Institute of Journalism.
“Gerry Lenfest was one of the most remarkable, generous and thoughtful human beings I’ve ever known. He understood that public-service journalism is essential to our democracy and to healthy communities, and he dedicated himself to preserving it in the digital age. His vision is inspiring journalists both here in Philadelphia and across the nation,” said David Boardman, Dean of Temple University’s Klein College of Media and Communication and Chair of the Lenfest Institute.
His contributions to Philadelphia did not end there. The Lenfests gave $63 million dollars to the Museum of the American Revolution, making them the museums largest donors, as well as raising $20 million from others to go towards the project. He paid off the Kimmel Center construction debt, donated $2.5 million to the Philadelphia School District’s after school program, and countless other acts of kindness for the city he loved.
He also served as Chairman Emeritus of the Museum of the American Revolution, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Curtis Institute of Music, and a trustee of Columbia University.
“The Museum of the American Revolution, housed in the Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest Building, would not exist if it were not for Gerry. Long before others saw the incredible promise of establishing such a museum, Gerry offered both his financial support and his leadership,” reads a statement released by the Museum of the American Revolution.
In October 2017, Mr. and Mrs. Lenfest were awarded the Carnegie Medal for Philanthropy.
Leaders across the commonwealth reacted to the passing of Mr. Lenfest on social media.
Gerry was a great human being and an even better citizen. Frances and I offer our deepest condolences to the Lenfest family and ask all Pennsylvanians to join us in remembering and celebrating the life of Gerry Lenfest. We will miss him. https://t.co/8ENRtMFkth
— Governor Tom Wolf (@GovernorTomWolf) August 5, 2018
Today we mourn the loss of a Philadelphia giant, Gerry Lenfest. A stellar businessman and civic leader, he has left an indelible mark on local journalism, philanthropy, arts, and culture. Philly was blessed to have him. My thoughts are with his loved ones. https://t.co/2W2Lsr9EkV
— Jim Kenney (@PhillyMayor) August 5, 2018
Today, Philadelphia, Southeastern Pennsylvania and our entire Commonwealth mourn the loss of Gerry Lenfest. We extend our condolences to his wife, Marguerite, and his family.
— Senator Bob Casey (@SenBobCasey) August 5, 2018
Thank you Gerry, and Marguerite, for the lives you've changed, the impact of your generosity from your hearts, & for making Phila and our region better for all of us. God rest your soul Gerry, prayers for your family. We love you because you cared so much!https://t.co/XTxazpdJYU
— Michael A. Nutter (@Michael_Nutter) August 5, 2018
A graduate of Columbia Law School, Mr. Lenfest practice law in New York City before moving to Philadelphia for a job with Walter Annenberg’s Triangle Publications. He established Lenfest Communications after purchasing Suburban and Lebanon Valley cable companies from Annenberg in 1974. By the late 1990s, the company was the largest cable operator in the region. He went on to sell the company to the Comcast Corporation.
Mr. Lenfest is survived by his wife, Marguerite, and their three children and four grandchildren.