Richard M. Scaife, philanthropist to conservative causes and publisher of Tribune-Review Publishing, Co., died Friday at the age of 82.

Scaife, an early supporter of The Heritage Foundation and member of its Board of Trustees since 1985, was serving as vice chairman of the board when he died.

In a statement to The Daily Signal, Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint and Heritage Founder Edwin J. Feulner said:

Richard Scaife dedicated his adult life to the conservative cause. Heritage is especially indebted to him for his years of leadership and service as vice chairman of our board of directors.

Dick was a generous patriot and a true bastion of civil society. One of Pittsburgh’s leading philanthropists, he was happy to advance causes that he knew to be important, political or not. He remained dedicated to historic preservation, civic development and education in his home state of Pennsylvania. His ownership and guidance of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, as well as his local radio stations, provided Western Pennsylvania with a refreshingly clear alternative to the biases of the liberal mainstream media.

As one of The Heritage Foundation’s three original financial backers, Dick Scaife was instrumental in creating a new breed of public policy institute in Washington that many deemed “risky,” even “ill conceived.” But he was a man of vision as well as conviction.

Dick’s steadfast support since 1973 allowed Heritage to become not only a permanent institution in Washington, but a permanent player in the public debate. In no small part because of his initial investment and confidence in the idea of a “conservative think tank,” Heritage more than ever is home to a resolute purpose: to build an America where freedom, opportunity, prosperity and civil society flourish.

Scaife’s involvement in media spanned decades. He purchased the Tribune-Review in 1970 and expanded its reach in Pittsburgh in 1992. He owned a number of radio stations as well, with the goal of bringing an alternative voice to the media markets of Western Pennsylvania, particularly his hometown of Pittsburgh.

In a May 18 column for the Tribune-Review, Scaife revealed he had an untreatable form of cancer. He reflected on his life’s work:

Over the decades, I supported many causes I consider worthwhile. Those include art museums, universities, think-tanks, political campaigns, community redevelopment projects, and countless charities —some local, others national in scope.

None has given me as great a sense of accomplishment as the newspapers of Trib Total Media.

I fell in love with newspapers as a boy, when my father brought me editions from around the country and abroad. The day I became a newspaper publisher, buying the Tribune-Review, remains one of the proudest, happiest moments of my life.

I believed then—as I do now—that newspapers are essential to America, and to any free and prospering nation.

In addition to his work in the publishing industry, Scaife was a director with the Pittsburgh World Affairs Council and served on the boards of The Heritage Foundation, Hoover Institution, Pepperdine University and other major educational institutions. His philanthropic work included involvement with the Sarah Scaife Foundation, The Allegheny Foundation and the Carthage Foundation.

He was tapped by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush to be a member of the U.S. Advisory Commission for Public Diplomacy, which oversees the U.S. Information Agency. He later became an outspoken commentator on U.S. strategic interests.

Scaife played a major role in the revival of the conservative movement. According to a story on the Tribune-Review, “Many of the nation’s leading conservatives considered him to be the man who sustained the Republican Party after its crushing defeat in the 1964 presidential election and the Watergate scandal in 1972. His support for and promotion of a conservative agenda led to Ronald Reagan’s election as president in 1980 and the nation’s turn toward the principles those two men shared.”

Scaife was born July 3, 1932, in Pittsburgh to Alan Scaife and Sarah Mellon and was an heir to the Mellon family banking and oil fortune.