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William Powell; Ex-Media Voice for U.N.

October 18, 1986|From Times Wire Services

UNITED NATIONS — William Powell, the media voice for the United Nations during the reigns of Kurt Waldheim and U Thant and a member of the staff that organized the first U.N. meetings in London in 1945, has died.

Powell had undergone surgery for cancer earlier this year and died Oct. 11 at his home in White Plains, N.Y. He was 69.

Powell served as spokesman for both Secretaries-General Thant and Waldheim and also had been director of the Press and Publications Division of the U.N. Office of Public Information.

Powell, who earned a doctorate of philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania, was a college professor and Navy war veteran when he was chosen to help prepare the agenda of the first U.N. General Assembly at Church House, London. He joined the permanent U.N. staff in 1946 and from 1953 to 1959 was the organization's press representative in London.

He served in a number of senior posts in New York, rising to director of press and publications in the department of public information.

In recent years, Powell served as head of information for the U.N. Assn. of the United States.

When he retired in 1978 he took his 3 1/2-year-old grandson to the last of what he said had been about 4,000 press briefings.

He told reporters that he and the toddler had at least one thing in common.

"Both (of us) talk all the time but at the end of the day we only have understood about one quarter of what we've said.

"I guess that's what press spokesmen are for."

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