Miami Newspaper Titan Alvah Chapman Dies at Age 87

Alvah H. Chapman Jr., former president and chief executive officer of The Miami Herald, chairman of Knight Ridder Corp. and a champion of philanthropic causes in South Florida, has died. He was 87.

Chapman succumbed to pneumonia on Christmas Day after spending the holiday with his family in Coconut Grove, the newspaper reported. He had Parkinson's disease, suffered strokes in recent years and broke a hip in March.

Chapman brought his family to Miami in 1960 and was a corporate and civic leader. He worked to house the homeless, helped sculpt downtown Miami's contemporary appearance and led the group, We Will Rebuild, after Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

Chapman believed public service was a responsibility and a way businesses could help build and foster a society.

"You can't publish a successful newspaper in a community that's dying on the vine," he once said.

He was born into a newspaper family on March 21, 1921, in Columbus, Ga. There, his family owned the R. W. Page Corporation, which operated The Ledger-Enquirer and other newspapers. His father, Alvah Sr., became publisher of The Bradenton Evening Herald in west-central Florida when he was 5.

Chapman graduated from the South Carolina military school The Citadel, and he served as Knight Ridder CEO from 1976 to 1989. Under his tenure, corporate revenues tripled, and the publishing company's newspapers garnered 33 Pulitzer Prizes, The Miami Herald reported. He retired as Knight Ridder's chairman in 1989 but remained on the board of directors.

After Hurricane Andrew destroyed much of south Miami-Dade County in 1992, President George H.W. Bush asked Chapman to spearhead the rebuilding effort. Out of this came the We Will Rebuild project.

Chapman also served as chairman of the Florida International University Foundation. The business school at the university now bears his name. Chapman is survived by his wife, Betty, their two daughters and six grandchildren.