BALTIMORE -- Gary Black, 72, former chairman of the board of the Baltimore Sun, died Oct. 27 at his suburban Baltimore County home. He had cancer.

"Gary Black was the very embodiment of a good newspaper owner," said Reg Murphy, president and publisher of the Baltimore Sun. "He let reporters report, editors edit and publisher publish."

Mr. Black was first named to the board of the A.S. Abell Co., the family company that owned the newspapers, in 1947. He became chairman in 1956 after the death of his uncle, Harry Black. He retired in November 1984, at 70, the mandatory retirement age. For the first time since 1914 a Black was not chairman of the board.

Mr. Black was chairman emeritus last year when the Los Angeles-based Times Mirror Co. paid $600 million for the company and ended the 76-year reign of the Blacks.

During his 28 years as board chairman, Mr. Black presided over the establishment of The Sun's network of foreign bureaus, modernization of the printing plant and installation of computers.

At the start of World War II, he enlisted as a private in the Army and served two years overseas. He came out in 1945 a captain. He worked in several departments of The Sun and The Evening Sun before joining the board of directors.

Survivors include his wife; a son, Gary Black Jr., and one daughter, Catherine.