Arthur Sulzberger, publisher of the New York Times for over three decades, died Saturday at the age of 86.
He died at home in Southampton, New York after a long illness, his family said, CNN reported.
Sulzberger was at the helm of the Times from 1963 until 1997, an unprecedented period of growth and change for the NYT and the newspaper industry as a whole, and was responsible for the decision to publish the now-infamous Pentagon Papers, a top-secret governmental history of the Vietnam War.
Sulzberger’s son Arthur took over from his father as the paper's publisher in 1992 and as chairman in 1997, and announced the news to the Times staff in a letter Saturday obtained by Poynter, referring to him by his nickname, "Punch."
"Punch, as everyone knew him, brilliantly led The New York Times Company for over three decades – as chairman and CEO of the Times Company and as publisher of The New York Times," wrote the younger Sulzberger, calling his father "a fierce defender of freedom of the press."
"Punch will be sorely missed by his family and his many friends, but we can take some comfort in the fact that his legacy and his abiding belief in the value of quality news and information will always be with us," he continued. "For that and so much more, we and future generations of Times Company men and women will always be grateful."
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After serving as a US Marine in World War II and the Korean War, Sulzberger spent his entire career with the Times company, except for one year at the Milwaukee Journal.
He is credited with the paper's expansion, adding four sections — SportsMonday, Science Times, Living, Home and Weekend — during a difficult financial period and investing in new printing facilities, the New York Times reported.
The Times also garnered 31 Pulitzer prizes during Sulzberger's tenure.
“Adolph Ochs [Sulzberger's grandfather] is remembered as the one who founded this great enterprise,” Richard Gelb, a longtime member of the Times board, said in 1997, when Sulzberger stepped down. “Arthur Ochs Sulzberger will be remembered as the one who secured it, renewed it and lifted it to ever-higher levels of achievement.”
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