Arthur O. Sulzberger (Dirck Halstead/TIME & LIFE/Getty Images)

On Saturday, a New York Times icon passed away. Arthur O. Sulzberger, 86, publisher and chairman and chief executive of the New York Times Company from 1963 to 1997, passed away at his home in Southampton, N.Y. Sulzberger grew the paper's reach and was instrumental in making the newspaper a symbol of free speech and cutting journalism, as well as a publication that could interest both men and women, reports the New York Times.

The expansion reflected Mr. Sulzberger's belief that a news organization, above all, had to be profitable if it hoped to maintain a vibrant, independent voice. As John F. Akers, a retired chairman of I.B.M. and for many years a Times company board member, put it, "Making money so that you could continue to do good journalism was always a fundamental part of the thinking."

Mr. Sulzberger's insistence on independence was shown in his decision in 1971 to publish a secret government history of the Vietnam War known as the Pentagon Papers. It was a defining moment for him and, in the view of many journalists and historians, his finest.

In thousands of pages, this highly classified archive detailed Washington's legacy of deceit and evasion as it stumbled through an unpopular war. When the Pentagon Papers were divulged in a series of articles in June 1971, an embarrassed Nixon administration demanded that the series be stopped immediately, citing national security considerations. The Times refused, on First Amendment grounds, and won its case in the United States Supreme Court in a landmark ruling on press freedom.

Read more at the New York Times.