According to the AP:
Rosenthal spent virtually all of his working life at the Times, beginning as a lowly campus stringer in 1943. He rose to police reporter, foreign correspondent, managing editor and finally to the exalted office of executive editor, a post he held for nine years beginning in 1977.
"Abe was a giant among journalists," retired Times publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger said in a statement. "He was a great editor with extraordinary loyalty to his troops."
On Rosenthal's watch, the Times published the "Pentagon Papers," a history of America's secret involvement in Vietnam, which won the paper one of its many Pulitzer Prizes in 1972. But the paper started slowly on Watergate and never caught up with the rival Washington Post on the seminal story that brought down a president.