Donald Rumsfeld, the two-time defense secretary and one-time presidential candidate whose reputation as a skilled bureaucrat and visionary of a modern U.S. military was unraveled by the long and costly Iraq war, died Tuesday. He was 88.
In a statement Wednesday, Rumsfeld’s family said he “was surrounded by family in his beloved Taos, New Mexico.”
President George W. Bush, under whom Rumsfeld served as Pentagon chief, hailed his “steady service as a wartime secretary of defense — a duty he carried out with strength, skill, and honor.”
Regarded by former colleagues as equally smart and combative, patriotic and politically cunning, Rumsfeld had a storied career in government under four presidents and nearly a quarter century in corporate America.
After retiring in 2008 he headed the Rumsfeld Foundation to promote public service and to work with charities that provide services and support for military families and wounded veterans.
“Rummy,” as he was often called, was ambitious, witty, energetic, engaging and capable of great personal warmth. But he irritated many with his confrontational style. An accomplished wrestler in college, Rumsfeld relished verbal sparring and elevated it to an art form; a biting humor was a favorite weapon.