[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/09/27/william.safire/art.william.safire.gi.jpg caption="William Safire died in Maryland following a battle with pancreatic cancer, The New York Times reported."]
(CNN) - William Safire, a New York Times columnist and former speechwriter for President Richard Nixon, has died, a spokeswoman for the Times said Sunday. He was 79, according to the newspaper.
Safire joined the Times as a columnist in 1973. In addition to his conservative news columns, which he wrote until 2005, he wrote a language column for the paper's Sunday magazine from 1979 until shortly before his death.
He won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1978 for his columns on the travails surrounding Bert Lance, who resigned under fire as President Carter's budget director in 1977.
Updated: 4:03 p.m.