Charles T. "Chuck" Powers, a veteran award-winning Times reporter who chronicled the demise of communism in Eastern Europe, died Wednesday. He was 53.
Powers died at the Southwest Vermont Medical Center of complications of a rare blood disease and subsequent surgeries.
After leaving The Times to write novels, Powers had lived in Bennington, Vt., where he recently completed his first book, "In the Memory of the Forest." His literary agent, Philippa Brophy, said the book is scheduled for publication by Scribner's in January.
"Chuck Powers was one of the finest writers to grace the pages of The Times," said Foreign Editor Simon K.C. Li. "Good writing was something he cared deeply about. As a foreign correspondent, he had both a discriminating eye for the details that bring into focus a faraway scene or catch the mood of a moment, and a sharp ear for conversation that similarly enlivened the people in his stories. He had elan, great charm and a talent for making fast friends."
Over more than two decades with The Times, Powers wrote movingly about a variety of changing lifestyles in Southern California, as well as reporting from New York, as Nairobi, Kenya, bureau chief and finally from Warsaw.
During his years in Africa, Powers was imprisoned and beaten in Uganda and detained overnight in Nigeria.
His writing, which earned several journalistic awards, was respected by colleagues and praised by readers. One typical letter to the editor stated simply, "Powers' farewell to Africa was as moving as a poem."
Between foreign assignments, Powers spent a year at Harvard on a Nieman Fellowship. He also won the national award of Sigma Delta Chi, the Society of Professional Journalists, for distinguished foreign correspondence in 1984.
Other awards came from the State Bar of California and the Greater Los Angeles Press Club. He won three of the highly competitive Times Editorial Awards, two for stories written on deadline and the other for excellent writing.
Born in Neosho, Mo., Powers attended Kansas State University, where he won the 1964 William Randolph Hearst Foundation award as the nation's outstanding collegiate journalist.
Powers is survived by a daughter, Rachel, of San Diego; his mother, Vivian; four brothers, Jim, Donald, Richard and Kevin; and a sister, Kimberly Powers Rocha.