The news of Colin Powell’s death, reported on Monday (October 18), is devastating for all those who admired him and knew of the history he made, whether as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff or being the first Black secretary of state. But the loss is felt most by those who knew him best — his family and wife of nearly 60 years, Alma Powell (née Johnson).
In a great interview from 2006 about her time as a military wife, she said that being married to Colin and raising up their family during his time in the military was “the defining experience of my life.” Notably, she had their first child while he was in Vietnam, a war he was sent to four months into their marriage.
“You are right there as the support for your military spouse. You provide the stability that they come home to,” she said at the time.
“Part of who I am is because of my career as a military wife. I think of the military as a family. We have shared experiences and fears and concerns and we have learned to work together to sustain this family that exists a bit outside of general society,” she added. “It was the most stabilizing [experience] despite all of the uncertainty in my life. You knew who you were and what you were and what you were a part of.”
She said the key to them making it work for so long was being realistic and paying extra special attention to their relationship.
“You have to know first of all that there’s no happily ever after. Once you get there, a relationship needs to be tended like a very tended plant: watered and fertilized,” she said. “It requires a respect for each other and each other’s points of view and it does require a great degree of flexibility…and particularly for military wives, you have to know what you signed on for in the first place.”
Colin reportedly met Alma on a blind date in 1961. They shared three children, including son Michael and daughters Linda and Annemarie.
“We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American,” the family said in a statement issued this morning, announcing his death.
In honor of his life, and their remarkable love, check out photos of the couple from over the years.