Cancer Left Powell Vulnerable to Virus

Ex-secretary of state was immunocompromised, died of COVID complications
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 18, 2021 11:38 AM CDT
Bush, Cheney React to Colin Powell's Death
In this Jan. 5, 2006 photo, President Bush, center, meets with, from left, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Colin Powell had a long career in the military and in politics, and two of the names he is most famously associated with have weighed in on his death at age 84. Details on that, and more:

  • George W. Bush: "Laura and I are deeply saddened," the former president wrote. "He was such a favorite of Presidents that he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom—twice. He was highly respected at home and abroad. And most important, Colin was a family man and a friend."
  • Dick Cheney: "He was a man who loved his country and served her long and well," said the former VP in his statement, per NPR. "Working with him during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, I saw first-hand General Powell’s dedication to the United States." NPR notes the two men had friction when Cheney accused Powell in a 2011 memoir of not fully briefing Bush. Powell called that a "cheap shot."

  • Cancer: Powell's family says he died of complications from COVID, and CNN reports that Powell also had multiple myeloma, described as a cancer of the plasma cells that suppresses the body's immune system. Powell was fully vaccinated, but immunocompromised people are at elevated risk of the virus. Powell is survived by his wife, Alma; a son, Michael; and two daughters, Linda Powell and Anne Marie Powell, per USA Today.
  • Milestones: Politico hits the highlights of his career, including stints as the first Black national security adviser, the first Black chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the first Black secretary of state. The piece also touches on perhaps the low point, when he went to the UN and incorrectly spoke about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction. "I am mostly mad at myself for not having smelled the problem," Powell wrote in his 2012 memoir It Worked For Me: In Life and Leadership. “My instincts failed me.”
  • Politics: Powell had shifted away from the GOP of late, unhappy with its direction, writes Chris Cillizza at CNN. "I can no longer call myself a fellow Republican," Powell said earlier this year. "You know, I'm not a fellow of anything right now. I'm just a citizen who has voted Republican, voted Democrat, throughout my entire career, and right now I'm just watching my country and not concerned with parties." Cillizza's take is that moderates such as Powell are unwelcome in the party.
  • Harlem native: Powell hailed from New York City, and ABC 7 looks at his lifelong ties to the region. His parents were Jamaican immigrants, his mother a seamstress and his father a shipping-room foreman in the city's garment district. "Mine is the story of a Black kid of no early promise from an immigrant family of limited means who was raised in the South Bronx," he wrote in his 1995 autobiography My American Journey.
(More Colin Powell stories.)

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