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WASHINGTON - Jody Powell, who was White House press secretary and among the closest and most trusted advisers to President Jimmy Carter, died Monday (Sept. 14, 2009) of a heart attack. He was 65.

Mr. 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 Mr. Powell. Nelson said Mr. Powell had had a previous heart attack in recent years.

Mr. Powell, who first worked with Carter during his campaign for governor in Georgia in the 1960s, joined Carter's presidential campaign in 1976 and served as chief White House spokesman from 1977 to 1981.

"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 in a statement.

He added: "No one worked more closely with me than Jody."

After leaving the White House, Mr. Powell remained and prospered as part of the Washington establishment.

He headed the Washington public relations firm of Ogilvy & Mather, building it from about a dozen people to nearly 100.

After leaving Ogilvy & Mather, Mr. Powell became one of the founders of the Powell Tate public relations firm in Washington. The Tate is for Sheila Tate, former press secretary to first lady Nancy Reagan.