Mary J. Corey, the first woman to hold the top editorial post at the Baltimore Sun, died Feb. 26 in Baltimore. She was 49.

The newspaper reported that she had battled breast cancer since 2008.

Ms. Corey was named senior vice president and director of content at the paper in 2010, overseeing all print and digital news operations. She was the first woman to hold the post in the Sun’s 176-year history.

Ms. Corey joined the Sun in 1987 as an editorial assistant and was quickly promoted to features writer. She later served as assistant national editor and national correspondent. She held editing roles in the features department from 1998 to 2003, then was promoted to assistant managing editor for features.

In 2009, when she was appointed head of print operations, the newspaper went through a severe round of layoffs as its parent company, the Tribune Co. of Chicago, was going through bankruptcy.

Mary J.Corey, the first woman to hold the top editorial post at The Baltimore Sun newspaper, died Feb. 26 of breast cancer. She was 49. (Robert K. Hamilton/AP)

After she ascended to the paper’s top newsroom job in 2010, the Sun was named newspaper of the year and best Web site by the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association.

“Amid an unprecedented information revolution, Mary used her leadership and creativity to position the Sun for the future,” Sun publisher Tim Ryan said. “She was exceptionally adept at driving the vital work of the newsroom while embracing opportunities for growth in the digital age.”

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake noted in a statement that Ms. Corey “was one of the few editors of a major metropolitan newspaper to have the unique opportunity to lead her hometown paper that she grew up reading.”

Ms. Corey was born in New York and moved to the Baltimore area as a child. She graduated magna cum laude from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland in 1985.

Her companion, Paul Mattix, died of cancer in 2005.

Survivors include her mother and two sisters.

In a 2010 article about breast cancer, Ms. Corey wrote, “After five months of chemotherapy and five surgeries, I’m now learning what it’s like to live in the hereafter and how happiness becomes part decision, part act of defiance.”

— News services and staff reports