Katherine Graham, 84, a prominent journalist and businesswoman, died yesterday morning from severe head injuries in Boise, Idaho. Graham, former chairman and chief executive officer of The Post Co. and former publisher of the Washington Post, was the first female on the Associated Press’s board of directors.
A pioneer in the male-dominated fields of business and journalism, Graham overcame personal insecurity and challenged pervasive gender stereotypes to become one of the most powerful women in the country. She resented sexist accusations that she was a ” ‘difficult woman’ to work with, one who acted on female whims,” noting that among male corporate heads, “no one attributed their actions to their gender.” She also triumphed over her insecurities at the beginning of her career, which she credited to “the narrow way women’s roles were defined… [women] had been brought up to believe that our roles were to be wives and mothers.”
Graham, a mother of four, assumed her late husband’s position as publisher in 1963 and proved to be a courageous businesswoman. She led the Post for three decades through turmoil and controversy, including the 1971 publication of the Pentagon Papers and the Watergate scandal, which led to President Nixon’s resignation in 1974. Graham also won the Pulitzer Prize in 1998 for her autobiography entitled “Personal History.”