Many Americans will remember Colin Powell as the four-star general who served as the country's first Black secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
But his three children — Linda, Annemarie, and Michael — will remember him for the bigger role he played: dad and grandpa. Powell died Monday at age 84 from complications of COVID-19, his family shared.
In a touching Instagram post Monday, Linda shared a photo from her childhood, featuring the family sitting together smiling.
"This was us. My family thanks you for all your thoughts and prayers," she wrote alongside a purple heart emoji.
Powell, who became the first Black secretary of state under President George W. Bush, was a prominent political figure, but at home, he was just 'dad.'
"It never occurred to me that my father was ambitious, which sounds like a silly thing to say," Linda Powell told The Baltimore Sun in 2001.
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Though Powell has been lauded for his remarkable career and impact, in a 2011 interview with Grand Magazine, he revealed his life's regret.
"One thing that I would have liked to have done is to spend more time with our children," he shared. "Alma did the majority of the day-to-day childrearing. When my son (Michael) was born, if I can go back that far, I was in Vietnam and I didn’t even know he had been born."
History repeated itself when Michael's son was born. Powell was in North Carolina on a military trip.
"I knew the baby was due any time, and I was hoping to be back in Washington for the birth," Powell told Grand, adding that an ice storm struck and left him stranded. "It was another day or two before I could get back to Washington to see my grandson.
"It was a moving moment because you see the next generation continue and you also have to start thinking, 'Jeez, I’m no longer a young father and even an old father. I am a grandfather.' It kind of reminds you of what’s important in life as you get older."
Powell and his wife, Alma, 83, would have celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in 2022.
"We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American," a statement from the family announcing his death read.
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