MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Edward Seaton, a longtime Kansas newspaper publisher who served as the Pulitzer Prize Board’s chair and advocated for international press freedom, has died. He was 79.

He died of natural causes Monday night at his home in Manhattan in northeastern Kansas, his son, Ned, who followed his father as publisher of The Manhattan Mercury, told the newspaper. Edward Seaton was chairman of Seaton Publications at the time of his death.

He became The Mercury’s publisher and associate editor in 1969 and its editor-in-chief in 1981. His grandfather had bought the paper in 1915, and his father, uncle and brother were publishers.

Ed Seaton spent much of his career working for democracy and press freedoms, particularly in Latin America. He was president of the Inter American Press Association and of the American Society of Newspaper Editors. He served nine years on the Pulitzer Prize Board.

He and his family built a group of affiliated media companies in Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. He was inducted into the Kansas Newspaper Hall of Fame in 2013.

He earned a bachelor’s degree with honors at Harvard College in 1965 and was a Fulbright scholar in Ecuador. He also did graduate work in journalism at the University of Missouri.

Born Feb. 5, 1943, in Manhattan, he began his journalism career as a reporter and copy editor at the Louisville, Kentucky, Courier-Journal.