Jody Powell, who was White House press secretary and among the closest and most trusted advisers to President Jimmy Carter, died of a heart attack. He was 65.
Powell, a member of the so-called Georgia Mafia that descended on Washington after Carter was elected president, was stricken at his home near Cambridge on Maryland's eastern shore, said Jack Nelson, a retired reporter and close friend of Powell.
Nelson said Powell had been working with firewood with a helper who briefly stepped away. Powell was discovered a short time later on the ground. Powell was said to have had a previous heart attack, but that it was some time ago in the early or mid-1990s.
Powell, who first worked with Carter during his campaign for governor in Georgia the 1960s, joined Carter's presidential campaign in 1976 and served as chief White House spokesman from 1977 to 1981.
Carter in a statement called Powell's death "a great personal loss" and said, "I will miss him dearly."
"Jody was beside me in every decision I made as a candidate, governor and president and I could always depend on his advice and counsel being candid and direct,'' Carter said. He added, "No one worked more closely with me than Jody."