MIAMI - Alvah H. Chapman Jr., 87, onetime chief executive officer of the now-defunct Knight Ridder Inc. newspaper chain that owned The Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News, died of pneumonia on Christmas.

Mr. Chapman had Parkinson's disease.

A third-generation newspaperman and former Miami Herald president and CEO, he was one of South Florida's most influential leaders.

Georgia-born and Citadel-educated, he brought his family to Miami in 1960. He evolved into an energetic champion of his adopted hometown and became the unifying force behind civic endeavors from housing the homeless to leading We Will Rebuild after Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

Taciturn and courtly in public, Mr. Chapman viewed this brand of leadership as a responsibility - and as smart business. "You can't publish a successful newspaper in a community that's dying on the vine," he once said.

Mr. Chapman came to Miami as company patriarch James L. Knight's executive assistant, quickly moving up the ranks to become the Herald's general manager and president. From 1976 to 1989, he was CEO and chairman of Knight Ridder, the Herald's corporate parent, in Miami.

After retiring as chairman in 1989, he remained on Knight Ridder's board of directors and objected when chairman P. Anthony Ridder announced in 1998 that he was moving corporate headquarters to San Jose, Calif.

He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Betty; two daughters, Dale Webb and Chris Hilton; six grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; and a sister.