Local business owner, former White House volunteer remembers Colin Powell as ‘kind’

Published: Oct. 19, 2021 at 1:33 AM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - With former President George W. Bush’s ranch located in Crawford, some Central Texans are sharing their memories of Colin Powell, the former U.S. Secretary of State, who died Monday.

Valerie Citrano says she first met George W. Bush when they were kids.

“Before he was Governor, I met him back in 1968 at HemisFair ‘68, my dad and his dad were acquaintances and involved in politics, I don’t know if he remembers that or not, but I remember hanging out with all the kids,” said Citrano. “I was also involved with the Texas Rangers when he owned the Rangers, that was a long time ago, too, I shot a lot of photos are the ballpark in Arlington.”

Years later, Citrano helped Bush with his campaign for Texas Governor.

She says they reconnected when Governor Bush came into the Coffee Shop Cafe in McGregor, which she co-owns.

“He came several times to the Coffee Shop, even held some meetings in the back room,” said Citrano.

Bush ended up winning the Presidency, putting Central Texas on the map as his ‘home away from home.’

“I think Colin Powell, and a lot of the people in the White House, felt the same way, felt like it was their second home,” said Citrano.

She says Bush staffers would often visit, Powell included.

“The very first time I got to meet him I was in the (press) pool and he was very personable and came over,” said Citrano.

For years, Citrano volunteered for the Bush Administration, doing everything from photography to making memorabilia.

“Not just photos, it was definitely a lot of t-shirts, lots of coffee mugs, all sorts of memorabilia, lots of campaign buttons, things I did for Air Force One, HMX-1, Marine One, the White House,” said Citrano. “Anything they wanted me to do, I pretty much did.”

Those were the years when she would come to know Powell.

“He knew a lot of the reporters and photographers and people around and he would come up and ask about their family, it could be two years and him not see them, it was like the President actually, President Bush was the same way, he was always very personable and very friendly to everybody,” Citrano told KWTX Monday. “I was just very sad remembering how he was, and how he died.”

Touched by his death, Citrano made a post on Facebook referencing a fond memory she had of Powell during one of his visits to Prairie Chapel Hill Ranch.

”At this time there were cows there, and I remember very distinctly that he didn’t want to have anything to do with a cow,” Citrano laughed. “You think--it’s such a powerful man...but he really didn’t like cows.”

Despite his bovine aversion, Citrano says she’ll best remember Powell for his kindness.

“I don’t think he was every going to buy a ranch in Central Texas, but I know he enjoyed coming here, he always said how much he enjoyed being back here,” said Citrano.

She had a message for Powell’s family.

“I want them to know how sorry I am and what a wonderful man he was, and I’m praying for all of you,” said Citrano.

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