Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, who was the publisher and chairman of the New York Times for three decades before retiring in 1992, died at his home in Southampton, N.Y. this morning at the age of 86 after a long illness.
Sulzberger was one of a long line of Times publishers. His grandfather, Adolph S. Ochs, purchased the then-money losing Times in 1896 and ran it as publisher until he died in 1935; Ochs' son-in-law and Sulzberger's father, Arthur Hays Sulzberger, succeeded him, then passed it on briefly to Orvil E. Dryfoos before Sulzberger took over in 1963. Sulzberger's son, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., is currently the Times' publisher and chairman.
Sulzberger had a significant impact on the Times during his time as publisher. He was the one who decided to add on feature sections like SportsMonday, Science Times and Living, in a successful attempt to attract new readers to the then-financially unstable paper. He was also at the Times' helm when it began using color presses and when it started its national edition. And Sulzberger was behind one of the Times' most daring acts when he decided to publish the Pentagon Papers, a collection of secret government documents pertaining to their actions during the Vietnam War, in 1971. His decision earned the Times a Pulitzer Prize. Sulzberger had also been chairman of the Newspaper Advertising Bureau, the American Press Institute and the American Newspaper Publisher's Association and Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as the director of the Associated Press from 1975 to 1984.
He studied at Columbia University and served in both World War II and the Korean War. Sulzberger was also married three times—once, to Barbara Grant in 1948, who he divorced in 1956, to Carol Fox, who died in 1995 and to Allison Stacey Cowles in 1996. He had three children: Arthur Jr. and a daughter, Karen, with Grant, and Cathy, who he adopted from Fox's previous marriage.
UPDATE: Condolences are pouring in from President Obama, Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg. Statement from President Obama: "Michelle and I were saddened today to hear about the passing of Arthur Sulzberger. Over the course of more than 30 years, Arthur helped transform the New York Times and secure its status as one of the most successful and respected newspapers in the world. He was a firm believer in the importance of a free and independent press - one that isn't afraid to seek the truth, hold those in power accountable, and tell the stories that need to be told. Arthur's legacy lives on in the newspaper he loved and the journalists he inspired. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family."
Governor Cuomo: "Today we mourn the loss of a true New Yorker and American, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, a respected businessman and publisher who built The New York Times into the globally renowned newspaper it is today. Mr. Sulzberger's life was one of service; as a young man he, along with so many others of his generation, answered the call of duty and joined the Armed Forces during World War II. Mr. Sulzberger changed the course of American history with his journalistic decisions, including publishing the Pentagon Papers, ultimately fulfilling the foremost task of the media to report the unfiltered truth to the American people. We will miss Mr. Sulzberger's integrity, unwavering commitment to the highest qualities of ethical journalism, as well as the role he played in the civic and social life of New York City and our nation. I send my condolences to his friends and family."
Mayor Bloomberg: "Thanks to Arthur Sulzberger’s leadership and his ability to not only survive but thrive in the face of challenging industry dynamics, the New York Times has remained a cultural touchstone and a dynamic global enterprise for decades. Arthur was a great New Yorker and a luminary in one of our city’s biggest industries, and his loss will be felt by many. My thoughts and prayers are with his friends and relatives as well as the larger New York Times family."