Jody Powell, the longtime press secretary to former President Jimmy Carter and co-founder of the public affairs firm Powell Tate, died Monday of an apparent heart attack. He was 65.
Powell, whose full name was Joseph Lester Powell Jr., first worked for Carter as his driver when the future president was running for governor of Georgia in 1970. In November of that year, Powell became Carter’s press secretary, a role he would hold through the end of Carter’s presidency. According to numerous reports, Carter once said that “Jody Powell knows me better than anyone else except my wife.—
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs paid tribute to Powell in a statement late Monday, saying that his predecessor was “always generous with his time and wise in his counsel.—
After leaving the West Wing, Powell set up Powell Tate, a public affairs and advertising firm, with Sheila Tate, a former press secretary to first lady Nancy Reagan.
Powell Tate was later acquired by the lobbying firm Cassidy & Associates.
In a statement, Cassidy & Associates founder Gerry Cassidy said Powell’s death “comes as a terrible loss.—
“Jody was the ultimate professional and helped create the modern practice of public affairs,— Cassidy said. “He was a brilliant communicator, a gifted strategist, a leader, but most of all the kind of man we all aspire to be. He will be missed.—
In her own statement, Tate said that while Powell’s family is “heartbroken— by his death, “I know they must also feel very proud of the contributions Jody Powell made to this country.—
In 1999, the PR firm then known as Shandwick International bought all of the Cassidy Cos. including Powell Tate. The Powell Tate name disappeared as a result of the merger, but the brand was quickly resurrected about a year later.
When interviewed by the lobbying publication Influence in 2000 about bringing back his firm’s name, Powell professed indifference. “Justice implies that there’s a wrong to be righted, which is not my view of it,— he told the publication. “The issue behind all this is what works in the marketplace.—
Powell, who is survived by his wife, Nan, and daughter, Emily, had a long list of clients that included corporations, trade associations and nonprofit groups, according to his firm’s Web site.