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official White House photo
President Richard M. Nixon with Charles Colson, center, and Ken Clawson on May 13, 1972.
Since learning of Chuck Colson’s illness he has been in my thoughts and prayers. Chuck died Saturday from complications from a brain hemorrhage.
It is odd to say but prison proved the best thing that ever happened to Chuck, and it made him a force for good. Prison was not real punishment for Chuck but a true education. He found a world of people he once described to me as “warehoused humans” who had been pushed out of public view. So he decided to give those people who were interested a purpose and meaning with his remarkable Prison Fellowship Ministries.
While there is little Chuck and I agreed about politically, we have had a long had a friendship based on mutual respect. While together in the custody of the U.S. Marshals at a safe house at Fort Holabird, Maryland, Chuck and I set aside our difference. He admitted he had tried to destroy me to defend Richard Nixon, and apologized. Begrudgingly he said that no one could have blown up the Watergate cover up better while taking his onslaught than yours truly, right down to figuring out that Nixon had taped us all. From Chuck, that was a compliment for there was a time when he was very good at destroying people.
Maybe that helps explain why he was good at the reverse, and helping broken people find a new life in the teachings of the Bible. I remember well when Chuck was first studying the Bible at Holabird, glowing with its revelations. There is little doubt he learned well for I’ve read many of his books. And I’m sure those lessons are serving him well at the end of his life.
Godspeed Charles. We will finish our conversations on the other side, when we have an eternity.
Former White House counsel John W. Dean III was charged with obstruction of justice and spent four months in prison for his role in the Watergate cover-up. Dean currently works as a writer, lecturer, and private investment banker.