Colin Powell was an iconic American success story. The child of immigrants, he became the first black man to rise to the highest positions in US military and diplomacy.
In the 1990s, Powell was one of the few American public figures with appeal that crossed political boundaries - reminiscent of General Dwight D Eisenhower after the Second World War.
Unlike Eisenhower, Powell would not ascend to the presidency - although there were abundant calls for him to run.
Those calls dwindled after the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, a decision Powell later acknowledged was a "blot" on his legacy. He had staked his reputation on the presence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction - and his reputation suffered for it.
In his later years, Powell became a different kind of icon. His drift away from the Republican Party following Donald Trump's rise to power reflected the dwindling influence of Powell's moderate, internationalist faction within the American conservative movement.
Powell's life may be somewhat overshadowed by his cause of death, as he now ranks as the most prominent American to succumb to Covid-19.