Gerald M. Boyd, who became the first black managing editor of The New York Times and was forced to resign amid a reporter's plagiarism scandal, has died. He was 56.

Boyd had been diagnosed with lung cancer in February and died Thursday at his home, said his wife, Robin Stone. He had been sick for most of the year and had kept the condition private from most friends and colleagues, Stone said.

"Every wife would say she'd want her husband to be known as a great person, wonderful husband, father and good citizen," she said from her home. "But as I've said before, as a journalist, he was my hero; and I know he was a hero to many journalists in the profession."

Boyd and executive editor Howell Raines were brought down by the scandal caused by Jayson Blair, a journalist they had groomed, and criticism of their management style at one of the world's most distinguished newspapers. Boyd resigned in 2003.

Bill Keller, executive editor of the New York Times, called Boyd a friend and colleague. "He was one of us," Keller said in an e-mail to Times staff.

According to the newspaper's Web site, Boyd's career began during the civil rights era and inspired generations of black journalists.

He was the first black journalist to work the many jobs he held at The Times, including city editor. As deputy managing editor for news, he oversaw the 2000 series "How Race is Lived in America," which won a Pulitzer Prize.

At a lecture in St. Louis a few years ago, according to the Times' Web site, he told the audience, "Throughout my life I have enjoyed both the blessing and the burden of being the first black this and the first black that, and, like many minorities and women who succeed, I've often felt alone."

A native of St. Louis, he joined the Times in 1983 after serving as White House correspondent for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. At 28, he was also the youngest journalist chosen for a prestigious Nieman fellowship at Harvard, The Times reported.