I didn’t know Powell Moore until I moved to Milledgeville. This is strange to me, because I should have met him while I worked in DC. Yet, it took leaving politics and moving out of the capital to meet one of the most influential – and most quiet about it – Georgians in the field. My life is all the better for knowing him, and I’m surely going to miss him going forward.
Powell (I was not allowed to call him Mr. Moore) grew up in Milledgeville, where he was a Georgia Military College cadet before heading to the University of Georgia to study journalism. After his graduation in 1959, he served in the Army for a few years, earning the rant of lieutenant. Powell elected to come home to Milledgeville to work at the Union-Recorder instead of entering Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning after a tour in Germany. He soon managed to turn his newspaper know-how into a position as press secretary for Senator Richard B. Russell, a position he stayed in until the senator’s death in 1971. From there, Powell took a job in the Nixon Administration as Deputy Director of Public Information for the Department of Justice. He served in several additional administrations – Ford, Reagan, and George W. Bush – and as chief of staff for Senator Fred Thompson of Tennessee. According to his obituary, printed over the weekend in the Union-Recorder, Powell received the U.S. Defense Department’s Medal for Distinguished Public Service from Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in 2005.
In case you’re wondering if Powell ever talked about his time in public service, he took part in the joint oral history program between Young Harris College and the University of Georgia in 2012.
Powell loved Milledgeville, even though he spent 40 years living in DC. He’d return home from time to time, and what was fun about him in the way that many of Milledgeville’s finest can’t seem to quite do once going off and making a name for themselves was that he could blend right in with Milledgevillians and few would be any the wiser. Even decades after he left Senator Russell’s office, Powell was more knowledgable on issues that affect our state than most of our current elected officials. We were lucky to have him as part of Senator Russell’s staff, and we were lucky that he went on serve the nation in several presidential administrations, always keeping an eye on the goings-on in Georgia and doing what he could to positively affect us from afar.
The last time I saw him, Powell and I had a conversation about the importance of character in politics. He was someone who believed very strongly that a person’s honesty and integrity were the measure of him or her. Whenever he talked about Senator Russell, he always brought up his rectitude. Like Senator Russell, Powell Moore was known for his moral character and servant’s attitude, allowing him to stand tall amongst scores of men and women who work in politics. He’s cast a long shadow that cannot easily be replaced.