Graham, who had served as chairwoman of the Post‘s executive committee, suffered a head injury Saturday during a fall. She was attending a conference of business leaders in Sun Valley, Idaho.
Graham remained unconscious and in critical condition until her death this morning.
Born in 1917 to former Post publisher Eugene Meyer, Graham went on to unexpectedly assume the newspaper’s reins herself after the suicide of her husband Philip Graham in 1963.
Under her watch the newspaper locked horns with the Nixon administration over reports on the Pentagon Papers — a secret government study of the Vietnam War — and the Watergate break-in.
By the time she relinquished her CEO duties to her son Donald in 1991, Graham had built the newspaper her father bought for $825,000 at a 1933 public auction into a Fortune 500 company, with holdings like Newsweekmagazine and various broadcast and cable properties.
By 1980, she was at the top of the World Almanac’s list of the nation’s 25 most influential women.
“She committed the paper to whatever its excellence is,” Ben Bradlee, the Post‘s longtime executive editor, told the Associated Press. “She was the heart and soul of the place.”
Even antagonist Richard Nixon praised Graham’s Postleadership during his life.
“In Washington, there are many who read the Post and like it and many who read the Post and don’t like it,” he once remarked. “But almost everyone reads the Post, which is a tribute to Kay Graham’s skill as publisher.”
Later in life, Graham remained active with the Post and wrote her autobiography, Personal History, which won a Pulitzer prize in 1998.