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(NEW YORK) — Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, the former publisher and chairman of the New York Times, died Saturday at his home in Southampton, New York. He was 86 years old.

Sulzberger took over as publisher of the paper and as chairman and C-E-O of the New York Times Company in 1963, guiding it to international prominence during his 34 year tenure.

His son, and current Times chairman and publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr. said in a statement, “Punch, the old Marine captain who never backed down from a fight, was an absolutely fierce defender of the freedom of the press.”

President Obama expressed his condolences to the Sulzberger family, releasing a statement saying, “…Arthur helped transform the New York Times and secure its status as one of the most successful and respected newspapers in the world…[His] legacy lives on in the newspaper he loved and the journalists he inspired. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

He is survived by his son and grandchildren.

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