Valentiner and Powell

Author Benedicte Valentiner with former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who died this week.

Our nation just lost a statesman with the death of Colin Powell, the much-admired general and former secretary of state. He was a frequent, friendly and approachable visitor to Blair House, also known as the President’s Guest House, where Randy Bumgardner, my deputy through many years, and I always looked forward to greeting this charming man.

The last time I saw Powell was at the State Department in July 2001. Two months earlier, I had attended a meeting at the White House regarding how the new George W. Bush administration wished to handle foreign visitors. For months, little things about these people, their arrogance and disdain for others has accumulated in my mind, and the way in which they snickered about the large and beautiful dinners under tents the Clintons hosted became my epiphany. I decided it was time to retire to my beloved Santa Fe.

The question for me as to my successor as general manager of Blair House was never in doubt, and I quietly started advising certain people of my impending retirement.

Benedicte Valentiner, former general manager of Blair House and author of Bedtime and Other Stories from the President’s Guest House, served under Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. She lives in Santa Fe.

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