Tri-Staters remember Colin Powell for leadership, career


EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) The Tri-State and the nation are remembering the life and career of Colin Powell.

The former secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff died at 84-years-old after suffering COVID-19 complications. Powell was in Evansville as recently as 2019, where he spoke at USI. People around the Tri-State remember him for his leadership and service to his country.

“He was just that type of person that you’d really want to have not only at your institution, but in your community,” says Joel Matherly, who works at USI’s Veterans, Military and Family Resource Center. Powell met with the university’s cadets and veterans during his visit to USI. Matherly helped bring Powell to campus.

“Very, very personable,” he recalled. Really wanted to answer everyone’s questions. Didn’t leave, in fact he was late for his next appointment, didn’t want to leave the cadets or veterans until all of our questions were answered.”

Powell was the first Black U.S. secretary of state, a former National Security Advisor, and he spent several decades in the Army. Although Powell died of COVID complications, he was fully vaccinated. He also reportedly had other health complications.

“To come in this morning and find out he has passed was a tremendous shock to us all,” says Matherly. 

Powell was also in Evansville in 2007, where he was the first speaker at Evansville’s Celebration of Diversity Distinguished Lecture Series.

“He was very approachable. He didn’t hesitate to crack a joke and tease people, which we found entertaining,” says former Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel. He also says Powell will mostly be remembered for his leadership.

“The leadership he provided in the U.S. Armed Forces, as secretary of state, as someone who is a trailblazer, who built bridges as the first African-American Secretary of State and emphasizing diversity,” Weinzapfel says.

USI President Dr. Ron Rochon says general Powell’s lifelong example of servant leadership to our country has inspired countless others to become better leaders, himself included.

(This story was originally published on October 18, 2021)

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