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Convicted Watergate Figure-Turned-Evangelical Leader Chuck Colson Dies at 80


Chuck Colson, the first member of the Nixon administration to serve time in prison for charges relating to the 1972 Watergate scandal, has died of a brain hemorrhage after having surgery roughly two weeks ago.

Known by many as the "dirty tricks artist" and "hatchet man" for Nixon, Colson once reportedly said he would "walk over [his] own grandmother" to the president re-elected.

Soon after he finished his sentence, however, Colson founded the "Prison Fellowship," which describes itself as “the world's largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners and their families,” with a presence in 113 countries.

His website has posted a memorial video:

The website further writes:

Evangelical Christianity lost one of its most eloquent and influential voices today with the death of Charles W. “Chuck” Colson. The Prison Fellowship and Colson Center for Christian Worldview founder died at 3:12 p.m. on Saturday from complications resulting from a brain hemorrhage. Colson was 80.

A Watergate figure who emerged from the country’s worst political scandal, a vocal Christian leader and a champion for prison ministry, Colson spent the last years of his life in the dual role of leading Prison Fellowship, the world’s largest outreach to prisoners, ex-prisoners and their families, and the Colson Center, a teaching and training center focused on Christian worldview thought and application.

Chuck’s life is a testimony to God’s power to forgive, redeem, and transform.

Colson was reportedly speaking at a Colson Center conference when he was overcome by dizziness several weeks ago.  He underwent two hours of surgery to remove a blood clot on the surface of his brain and, though he showed signs of a possible recovery, his health took a turn for the worse several days ago.

His site concludes: " He went to be with the Lord. His wife, Patty, and the family were with him in the last moments before he entered eternity."

Though many of Colson's reform efforts in, for instance, treating rather than incarcerating drug users, failed to significantly change government policy, Colson's efforts impacted countless prisoners and Christians worldwide.

Note from The Blaze Editor-in-Chief Scott Baker:

Chuck Colson would probably not have remembered but I worked for him briefly in 1988.

A year or two earlier a friend of mine called to ask if I would be interested in a job helping do research and writing for Colson's books and speeches.  I was tempted, but the timing wasn't right.  And I knew someone far better for the job -- my college roommate Michael Gerson.  Mike went on to work on many important projects with Colson (Gerson would later serve as chief speechwriter at the White House for George W. Bush).

In 1988 Colson was approached to do a series of radio specials focusing on the coming presidential election.  At the time, I was working as a weekend news anchor at a TV station in Erie, Pennsylvania.  Early on each Monday I would fly from Erie, connect in Pittsburgh before landing at Dulles Airport not far from the Prison Fellowship offices.  Mike and I would work on scripts and concepts for the radio specials.  Each Tuesday night I would fly back to Erie.  It was the only work I ever really did in "religious" broadcasting. And by design, the 30-minute broadcast sounded more like Nightline (1980's style) than anything common on Christian radio.  We produced five of these special broadcasts.  Colson would later become very well known for his thoughtful BreakPoint daily radio commentary broadcasts.

I only talked to him a couple of times.   Once in the early 90's I spotted him at a pay phone at the Pittsburgh airport.  We chatted briefly and I told him how much his thinking and example had influenced my life.

Colson was a rare Evangelical leader who had the ability inspire his readers and listeners to think more deeply and act more vigorously with a clarity measured in vast compassion.






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