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

October 18, 2021

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – 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.


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.







The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands

The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands, which operates The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands and Sunnylands Center & Gardens, is a nonprofit operating entity. The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands hosts high-level retreats that address serious issues facing the nation and the world, including the 2013 meeting between President Obama and President Xi of the People’s Republic of China. Sunnylands also offers programs through Sunnylands Center & Gardens to educate the public about the history of Sunnylands, its architecture, art collections, cultural significance, and sustainable practices.