Sunnylands mourns the passing of former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a longtime Annenberg friend

Monday, October 18, 2021

The children and grandchildren of Walter and Leonore Annenberg, trustees of The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands, offer their deepest sympathies at the passing of former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a longtime family friend who became a frequent visitor to Sunnylands during his tenure as a top military advisor and diplomat.

Secretary Powell, 84, died Monday of complications from a breakthrough case of Covid-19 at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. It was also reported that he had been treated in recent years for multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that can compromise the immune system.

Colin Powell, Walter Annenberg, and Bob Hope
Secretary General Colin Powell, Walter Annenberg, and comedian and actor Bob Hope at the Bob Hope Cultural Center opening in Palm Desert, Calif.

Secretary Powell met the Annenbergs when he was President Ronald Reagan’s National Security Advisor. In the late 1980’s, he joined the list of senior presidential advisors, prominent political figures, and celebrities who periodically convened at Sunnylands, the Annenbergs’ 200-acre winter estate in Rancho Mirage, Calif., for working vacations and social events. Powell also served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush and Secretary of State for President George W. Bush.

“People always felt welcome,” Powell once said of Sunnylands. “They knew they could be private there, they knew they could have the time to study and think about things. And that’s what so many leaders did when they were at Sunnylands. It’s what I used to do as National Security Advisor, and Chairman, and Secretary of State when I visited Sunnylands.”

Secretary Powell and his wife, Alma, bonded quickly with their hosts, Walter Annenberg, who was Ambassador to the United Kingdom under President Richard Nixon, and Leonore Annenberg, President Reagan’s chief of protocol. He spoke at both their funerals.

The Powells attended an annual New Year’s Eve party at Sunnylands and became frequent weekend visitors, enjoying the estate and golfing with the Annenbergs. When Secretary Powell and his wife returned for a visit, he would call out with a phrase that never failed to delight Walter Annenberg, “Mom and Pop – we’re home!”

Secretary Powell’s work on behalf of the country is respectfully remembered by the nation and the trustees and staff at Sunnylands. His leadership, strength, and friendship with the Annenbergs will continue to be a significant part of the history and legacy of the estate.