NEW YORK — Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, the former publisher of The New York Times and chairman and chief executive of The New York Times Company, died Saturday in Southampton, N.Y. He was 86.

His death, following a long illness, was announced by his family.

“Mr. Sulzberger’s tenure [at the Times] reached across 34 years, from the heyday of postwar America to the twilight of the 20th century, from the era of hot lead and Linotype machines to the birth of the digital world,” The New York Times reported.

Sulzberger, whose grandfather bought the paper in 1896, ran it during some of its most dramatic periods. In 1971, for instance, he decided to publish the Pentagon Papers, a secret government history of the Vietnam War.

Sulzberger’s son and successor as the paper’s chairman and publisher, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., said of his father in a statement that “Punch, the old Marine captain who never backed down from a fight, was an absolutely fierce defender of the freedom of the press. His inspired leadership in landmark cases such as New York Times v. Sullivan and the Pentagon Papers helped to expand access to critical information and to prevent government censorship and intimidation.”

Sulzberger is survived by four children, two sisters and nine grandchildren.