Bradlee, who began as a managing editor in 1965, led the Post through some of the biggest stories in its history—he oversaw the paper's now-famous coverage of the Watergate scandal and, alongside publisher Katherine Graham, made the decision to publish stories about the Pentagon papers.
The staff drenched him in an outpouring of emotion on his last day in the newsroom, July 31, 1991. Most of the men and women on the staff had bought, borrowed or faked a striped shirt with a white collar and cuffs, mimicking those made by Turnbull & Asser in London that Mr. Bradlee had been wearing for years. For tribute after tribute, Mr. Bradlee kept his eyes dry. But then he heard the telegram from Nora Boustany, who had covered the war in Lebanon for The Post and was back in Beirut for a visit at the time of the retirement party. Her comments were read aloud:
"Whenever I found myself alone on the streets of Beirut, I would just shrug off the shelling, the gunmen, and the dark corners, telling myself there is this distinguished eminence up there who really appreciates and understands the true meaning of courage in journalism. . . . For me you will always be the grand, brave man of the news who watched over me and made me want to give just a little bit more. Thank you for giving us all something so special to believe in."
He reportedly died at home with his family.