They both carved out sterling reputations as military and political leaders over years of public service. But both also saw their legacies tarnished by their actions in the long, bloody war in Iraq.
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld are among the many noteworthy people who died in 2021.
Powell, who died in October, was a trailblazing soldier and diplomat. He rose to the rank of four-star general in the Army before becoming the first Black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And under former President George W. Bush, he became the nation's first Black secretary of state.
Rumsfeld, who died in June, had a storied career in government under four U.S. presidents and was seen as a visionary of a modern military.
Rumsfeld was secretary of defense and shouldered some of the blame as Iraq sank into chaos after the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime. In the leadup to the war, Powell cited faulty information during a United Nations Security Council address while claiming Hussein had secretly stashed weapons of mass destruction.
Others political figures the world said goodbye to this year include former U.S. Vice President Walter F. Mondale, former South African President F.W. de Klerk, former Sen. Bob Dole, former South Korean President Roh Tae-woo, talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, former Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner, former Danish Prime Minister Poul Schlueter and Iranian ambassadors Ali Akbar Mohtashamipour and Ardeshir Zahedi.
Also among those who died this year was a man who held the title of baseball's home run king for years. Hank Aaron, who died in January, endured racist threats on his path to breaking Babe Ruth's record and is still considered one of the game's greatest players.
Other sports figures who died in 2021 include Los Angeles Dodgers Manager Tommy Lasorda, college football coach Bobby Bowden, Olympic swimmer Clara Lamore Walker, NBA players Paul Westphal and Elgin Baylor, auto racer Bobby Unser, golfer Lee Elder, track and field star Milkha Singh and boxer Leon Spinks.
Among the entertainers who died this year was a children's author whose books were enjoyed by millions around the world. Beverly Cleary, who died in March, channeled memories from her youth in Oregon to created beloved characters such as Ramona Quimby, her sister Beatrice "Beezus" Quimby and Henry Huggins.
Others from the world of arts and entertainment who died this year include actors Cicely Tyson, Ed Asner, Cloris Leachman, Christopher Plummer, Olympia Dukakis, Ned Beatty, Jane Powell, Sonny Chiba, Gavin MacLeod, George Segal, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Johnny Briggs and Dustin Diamond; magician Siegfried Fischbacher; Bollywood star Dilip Kumar; Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts; theater songwriter Stephen Sondheim; ballerina and actress Carla Fracci; rappers DMX and Biz Markie; artist Arturo Di Modica; telenovela writer Delia Fiallo; authors Anne Rice, Eric Carle, Joan Didion, bell hooks and Norton Juster; reggae musician Bunny Wailer; comedians Norm Macdonald and Paul Mooney; singers Pervis Staples and Sabah Fakhri; ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill; and filmmaker Richard Donner.
Here is a roll call of some influential figures who died in 2021 (cause of death cited for younger people, if available):
George Whitmore, 89. A member of the first team of climbers to scale El Capitan in Yosemite National Park and a conservationist who devoted his life to protecting the Sierra Nevada. Jan. 1.
Paul Westphal, 70. A Hall of Fame NBA player who won a championship with the Boston Celtics in 1974 and later coached in the league and in college. Jan. 2.
Brian Urquhart, 101. The British diplomat was an early leader of the United Nations and played a central role in developing the U.N. practice of peacekeeping. Jan. 2.
Gerry Marsden, 78. The lead singer of the 1960s British group Gerry and the Pacemakers that had such hits as "Ferry Cross the Mersey" and the song that became the anthem of Liverpool Football Club, "You'll Never Walk Alone." Jan. 3.
Eric Jerome Dickey, 59. The bestselling novelist who blended crime, romance and eroticism in "Sister, Sister," "Waking With Enemies" and dozens of other stories about contemporary Black life. Jan. 3. Cancer.
Tanya Roberts, 65. She captivated James Bond in "A View to a Kill" and appeared in the sitcom "That '70s Show." Jan. 4.
Tommy Lasorda, 93. The fiery baseball Hall of Fame manager who guided the Los Angeles Dodgers to two World Series titles and later became an ambassador for the sport he loved. Jan. 7.
Meredith C. Anding Jr., 79. A member of the "Tougaloo Nine," who famously participated in a library "read-in" in segregated Mississippi about 60 years ago. Jan. 8.
Sheldon Adelson, 87. He rose from a modest start as the son of an immigrant taxi driver to become a billionaire Republican powerbroker with a casino empire and influence on international politics. Jan. 11.
Siegfried Fischbacher, 81. He was the surviving member of the magic duo Siegfried & Roy who entertained millions with illusions using rare animals. Jan. 13. Pancreatic cancer.
Phil Spector, 81. The eccentric and revolutionary music producer who transformed rock music with his "Wall of Sound" method and who later was convicted of murder. Jan. 16.
Hank Aaron, 86. He endured racist threats with stoic dignity during his pursuit of Babe Ruth's home run record and gracefully left his mark as one of baseball's greatest all-around players. Jan. 22.
Larry King, 87. The suspenders-sporting everyman whose broadcast interviews with world leaders, movie stars and ordinary people helped define American conversation for a half-century. Jan. 23.
Walter Bernstein, 101. The screenwriter was among the last survivors of Hollywood's anti-Communist blacklist whose Oscar-nominated script for "The Front" drew upon his years of being unable to work under his own name. Jan. 23.
Sifis Valyrakis, 77. A former minister and resistance fighter against Greece's 1967-74 military dictatorship who twice made daring escapes. Jan. 24.
Carlos Holmes Trujillo, 69. As Colombia's defense minister, he was one of the country's most recognized conservative politicians. Jan. 26. Complications of COVID-19.
Cloris Leachman, 94. An Oscar-winner for her portrayal of a lonely housewife in "The Last Picture Show" and a comedic delight as the fearsome Frau Blücher in "Young Frankenstein" and self-absorbed neighbor Phyllis on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." Jan. 27.
Cicely Tyson, 96. The pioneering Black actor who gained an Oscar nomination for her role as the sharecropper's wife in "Sounder," won a Tony Award in 2013 at age 88 and touched TV viewers' hearts in "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman." Jan. 28.
Paul J. Crutzen, 87. A Dutch scientist who won the Nobel Prize for chemistry for his work understanding the ozone hole and is credited with coining the term Anthropocene to describe the geological era shaped by mankind. Jan. 28.
John Chaney, 89. One of the nation's leading basketball coaches and a commanding figure during a Hall of Fame career at Temple. Jan. 29.
Hilton Valentine, 77. He was the founding guitarist of the English rock and roll band The Animals who is credited with coming up with one of the most famous opening riffs of the 1960s in "The House of the Rising Sun." Jan. 29.
Sophie, 34. She was the Grammy-nominated Scottish disc jockey, producer and recording artist who had worked with the likes of Madonna and Charli XCX. Jan. 30. Accidental fall.
Abraham J. Twerski, 90. An esteemed Hassidic rabbi and acclaimed psychiatrist who championed treatment for substance abuse and authored over 80 books on subjects both spiritual and scientific. Jan. 31.
Dustin Diamond, 44. An actor best known for playing Screech on the hit '90s sitcom "Saved by the Bell." Feb. 1. Cancer.
Jack Palladino, 76. The flamboyant private investigator whose clients ranged from presidents and corporate whistleblowers to celebrities, Hollywood moguls and sometimes suspected drug traffickers. Feb. 1. Injuries suffered in an attack.
Rennie Davis, 80. He was one of the "Chicago Seven" activists who was tried for organizing an anti-Vietnam War protest outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago in which thousands clashed with police. Feb. 2. Lymphoma.
Millie Hughes-Fulford, 75. A trailblazing astronaut and scientist who became the first female payload specialist to fly in space for NASA. Feb. 2.
Tony Trabert, 90. A five-time Grand Slam singles champion and former No. 1 player who went on to successful careers as a Davis Cup captain, broadcaster and executive. Feb. 3.
Jim Weatherly, 77. The Hall of Fame songwriter who wrote "Midnight Train to Georgia" and other hits for Gladys Knight, Glen Campbell and Ray Price. Feb. 3.
Christopher Plummer, 91. The dashing award-winning actor who played Captain von Trapp in the film "The Sound of Music" and at 82 became the oldest Academy Award acting winner in history. Feb. 5.
Leon Spinks, 67. He won Olympic gold and then shocked the boxing world by beating Muhammad Ali to win the heavyweight title in only his eighth pro fight. Feb. 5.
George P. Shultz, 100. The former secretary of state was a titan of American academia, business and diplomacy who spent most of the 1980s trying to improve Cold War relations with the Soviet Union and forging a course for peace in the Middle East. Feb. 6.
Mary Wilson, 76. The longest-reigning original Supreme. Feb. 8.
Marty Schottenheimer, 77. He won 200 regular-season games with four NFL teams thanks to his "Martyball" brand of smash-mouth football but regularly fell short in the playoffs. Feb. 8.
Chick Corea, 79. He was a towering jazz pianist with a staggering 23 Grammy Awards who pushed the boundaries of the genre and worked alongside Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock. Feb. 9. Cancer.
Larry Flynt, 78. He turned his raunchy Hustler magazine into an empire while fighting numerous First Amendment court battles. Feb. 10.
Johnny Pacheco, 85. A salsa idol who was a co-founder of Fania Records, Eddie Palmieri's bandmate and backer of music stars such as Rubén Bladés, Willie Colón and Celia Cruz. Feb. 15.
Bernard Lown, 99. A Massachusetts cardiologist who invented the first reliable heart defibrillator and later co-founded an anti-nuclear war group that was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. Feb. 16.
Rush Limbaugh, 70. The talk radio host who ripped into liberals and laid waste to political correctness with a merry brand of malice that made him one of the most powerful voices on the American right. Feb. 17.
Arturo Di Modica, 80. The artist who sculpted Charging Bull, the bronze statue in New York which became an iconic symbol of Wall Street. Feb. 19.
Ahmed Zaki Yamani, 90. A long-serving oil minister in Saudi Arabia who led the kingdom through the 1973 oil crisis, the nationalization its state energy company and once found himself held hostage by the assassin Carlos the Jackal. Feb. 23.
Michael Somare, 84. A pivotal figure in Papua New Guinea's independence and the South Pacific island nation's first prime minister. Feb. 26.
Kenneth C. Kelly, 92. A Black electronics engineer whose antenna designs contributed to the race to the moon, made satellite TV and radio possible and helped NASA communicate with Mars rovers and search for extraterrestrials. Feb. 27.
Johnny Briggs, 85. A British actor best known for his role as businessman Mike Baldwin in the long-running TV soap opera "Coronation Street." Feb. 28.
Vernon Jordan, 85. He rose from humble beginnings in the segregated South to become a champion of civil rights before reinventing himself as a Washington insider and corporate influencer. March 1.
Bunny Wailer, 73. A reggae luminary who was the last surviving founding member of the legendary group The Wailers. March 2.
Carla Wallenda, 85. A member of "The Flying Wallendas" high-wire act and the last surviving child of the famed troupe's founder. March 6.
Lou Ottens, 94. The Dutch inventor of the cassette tape, the medium of choice for millions of bedroom mix tapes. March 6.
Sister Janice McLaughlin, 79. A Maryknoll Sisters nun who was jailed and later deported by white minority-ruled Rhodesia for exposing human rights abuses. March 7.
Norton Juster, 91. The celebrated children's author who fashioned a world of adventure and punning punditry in the million-selling classic "The Phantom Tollbooth." March 8.
Roger Mudd, 93. The longtime political correspondent and anchor for NBC and CBS who once stumped Sen. Edward Kennedy by simply asking why he wanted to be president. March 9.
James Levine, 77. The conductor ruled over the Metropolitan Opera for more than four decades before being eased aside when his health declined and then was fired for sexual improprieties. March 9.
Luis Palau, 86. An evangelical pastor who was born in Argentina and went on to work with Billy Graham before establishing his own powerhouse international ministry. March 11.
Ronald DeFeo, 69. The man convicted of slaughtering his parents and four siblings in a home that later inspired the "The Amityville Horror" book and movies. March 12.
King Goodwill Zwelithini, 72. The traditional leader of South Africa's Zulu nation, he reigned for more than 50 years, making him the longest-serving Zulu monarch. March 12.
Yaphet Kotto, 81. The commanding actor who brought tough magnetism and stately gravitas to films including the James Bond movie "Live and Let Die" and "Alien." March 15.
Elsa Peretti, 80. She went from Halston model and Studio 54 regular in the 1960s and '70s to one of the world's most famous jewelry designers with timeless, fluid Tiffany & Co. collections. March 18.
Elgin Baylor, 86. The Lakers' 11-time NBA All-Star who soared through the 1960s with a high-scoring style of basketball that became the model for the modern player. March 22.
George Segal, 87. The banjo player turned actor who was nominated for an Oscar for 1966s "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and worked into his late 80s on the ABC sitcom "The Goldbergs." March 23. Complications from bypass surgery.
Jessica Walter, 80. Her roles as a scheming matriarch in TV's "Arrested Development" and a stalker in "Play Misty for Me" were in line with a career that drew on her astringent screen presence. March 24.
Beverly Cleary, 104. The celebrated children's author whose memories of her Oregon childhood were shared with millions through the likes of Ramona and Beezus Quimby and Henry Huggins. March 25.
Larry McMurtry, 84. The prolific and popular author who took readers back to the old American West in his Pulitzer Prize-winning "Lonesome Dove" and returned them to modern-day landscapes in works such as his emotional "Terms of Endearment." March 25.
Bill Brock, 90. A former senator from Tennessee whose long career in Washington included a key role in rebuilding the Republican Party after the Watergate scandal. March 25.
Bobby Brown, 96. An infielder who played on five World Series champions with the New York Yankees and later became a cardiologist and president of the American League. March 25.
G. Gordon Liddy, 90. A mastermind of the Watergate burglary and a radio talk show host after emerging from prison. March 30.
Clara Lamore Walker, 94. She swam for the U.S. at the 1948 Olympic Games in London, won three national championships, and later in life set hundreds of national and world swimming records in several masters age groups. April 2.
Sugako Hashida, 95. She was a renowned Japanese scriptwriter best known for the internationally popular TV drama series "Oshin." April 4.
Hans Kueng, 93. A Roman Catholic theologian who was an early colleague and friend of the future Pope Benedict XVI but later fell foul of the Vatican for challenging church doctrine and became a vocal critic of the pontiff. April 6.
Anne Beatts, 74. A groundbreaking comedy writer with a taste for sweetness and the macabre who was on the original staff of "Saturday Night Live" and later created the cult sitcom "Square Pegs." April 7.
John Naisbitt, 92. The author whose 1982 bestselling book "Megatrends" was published in dozens of countries. April 8.
Prince Philip, 99. The irascible and tough-minded husband of Queen Elizabeth II who spent more than seven decades supporting his wife in a role that both defined and constricted his life. April 9.
DMX, 50. The iconic hip-hop artist behind the songs "Ruff Ryders' Anthem" and "Party Up (Up in Here)" whose distinctively gruff voice and thoughtful messages in his rhymes made him one of rap's biggest stars. April 9.
Bernard Madoff, 82. The infamous architect of an epic securities swindle that burned thousands of investors, outfoxed regulators and earned him a 150-year prison term. April 14.
Charles "Chuck" Geschke, 81. The co-founder of the major software company Adobe Inc. who helped develop Portable Document Format technology, or PDFs. April 16.
Walter F. Mondale, 93. The former U.S. vice president was a liberal icon who lost one of the most lopsided presidential elections after bluntly telling voters to expect a tax increase if he won. April 19.
Jim Steinman, 73. The Grammy-winning composer who wrote Meat Loaf's best-selling "Bat Out Of Hell" debut album as well as hits for Celine Dion, Air Supply and Bonnie Tyler. April 19. Kidney failure.
Shock G, 57. He blended whimsical wordplay with reverence for '70s funk as leader of the off-kilter Bay Area hip-hop group Digital Underground. April 22.
Christa Ludwig, 93. The mezzo-soprano was a renowned interpreter of Wagner, Mozart and Strauss who starred on the world's great stages for four decades. April 24.
Michael Collins, 90. An Apollo 11 astronaut who orbited the moon alone while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin made their historic first steps on the lunar surface. April 28. Cancer.
Jason Matthews, 69. An award-winning spy novelist who drew upon his long career in espionage and his admiration for John le Carre among others in crafting his popular "Red Sparrow" thrillers. April 28. Corticobasal degeneration.
Eli Broad, 87. The billionaire philanthropist, contemporary art collector and entrepreneur who co-founded homebuilding pioneer Kaufman and Broad Inc. and launched financial services giant SunAmerica Inc. April 30.
Olympia Dukakis, 89. The veteran stage and screen actor whose flair for maternal roles helped her win an Oscar as Cher's mother in the romantic comedy "Moonstruck." May 1.
Bobby Unser, 87. A beloved three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 and part of the only pair of brothers to capture "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing." May 2.
Jacques d'Amboise, 86. Grew up on the streets of upper Manhattan to become one of the world's premier classical dancers at New York City Ballet and spent the last four and a half decades providing free dance classes to city youth. May 2.
Lloyd Price, 88. The singer-songwriter was an early rock 'n' roll star and enduring maverick whose hits included such up-tempo favorites as "Lawdy Miss Clawdy," "Personality" and the semi-forbidden "Stagger Lee." May 3.
Paulo Gustavo, 42. A popular comedian whose character Dona Herminia dealt with everyday family and LGBTQ issues in some of Brazil's biggest-box office movies and television shows. May 4. COVID-19.
Mohammed Ashraf Sehrai, 78. A prominent politician in Kashmir who challenged India's rule over the disputed region for decades. May 5. Died while in police custody.
Pervis Staples, 85. His tenor voice complimented his father's and sisters' in the legendary gospel group The Staple Singers. May 6.
Norman Lloyd, 106. His role as kindly Dr. Daniel Auschlander on TV's "St. Elsewhere" was a single chapter in a distinguished stage and screen career. May 11.
Charles Grodin, 86. The actor and writer who scored as a caddish newlywed in "The Heartbreak Kid" and later had roles ranging from Robert De Niro's counterpart in the comic thriller "Midnight Run" to the bedeviled father in the "Beethoven" comedies. May 18. Bone marrow cancer.
Paul Mooney, 79. A boundary-pushing comedian who was Richard Pryor's longtime writing partner and whose sage, incisive musings on racism and American life made him a revered figure in stand-up. May 19. Heart attack.
Lee Evans, 74. The record-setting sprinter who wore a black beret in a sign of protest at the 1968 Olympics then went onto a life of humanitarian work in support of social justice. May 19.
Alix Dobkin, 80. The lesbian singer and feminist activist who appeared in an iconic and recently resurgent 1975 photo wearing a T-shirt that read "The Future is Female." May 19. Brain aneurysm and stroke.
Yuan Longping, 90. A Chinese scientist who developed higher-yield rice varieties that helped feed people around the world. May 22.
Max Mosley, 81. Shook off the stigma of his family's links to fascism to become international motorsport's top administrator and later made a stand as a privacy campaigner in response to tabloid stories about his sex life. May 23.
Eric Carle, 91. A beloved children's author and illustrator whose classic "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" and other works gave millions of kids some of their earliest and most cherished literary memories. May 23.
John Warner, 94. He served for 30 years in the U.S. Senate and was a longtime military expert who became famous as the sixth man to walk down the aisle with movie star Elizabeth Taylor. May 25.
Lois Ehlert, 86. Her cut-and-paste shapes and vibrant hues in books including "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" put her among the most popular illustrators of books for preschoolers of the late 20th century. May 25.
Kay Lahusen, 91. A pioneering gay rights activist who chronicled the movement's earliest days through her photography and writing. May 26.
Carla Fracci, 84. An Italian cultural icon and former La Scala prima ballerina renowned for romantic roles alongside such greats as Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov. May 27.
Poul Schlueter, 92. Denmark's prime minister for over a decade who negotiated exemptions for his country to a key European Union treaty after Danes rejected the initial text in a referendum. May 27.
B.J. Thomas, 78. The Grammy-winning singer who enjoyed success on the pop, country and gospel charts with such hits as "I Just Can't Help Believing," "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head" and "Hooked on a Feeling." May 29.
Gavin MacLeod, 90. The veteran supporting actor who achieved fame as sardonic TV news writer Murray Slaughter on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and stardom playing cheerful Capt. Stubing on "The Love Boat." May 29.
See part 2 of this story here.