One of the most respected voices of the conservative movement, Charles Krauthammer, passed away Thursday at 68 after a long battle with cancer, his son told the Washington Post.
The news comes after the political commentator and Pulitzer Prize winner penned a heartfelt open letter on June 8 to his readers informing them that he had only a few weeks to live.
The best-selling author wrote he was “grateful to have played a small role in the conversations that have helped guide this extraordinary nation’s destiny.”
“I believe that the pursuit of truth and right ideas through honest debate and rigorous argument is a noble undertaking,” he wrote.
“I am sad to leave, but I leave with the knowledge that I lived the life that I intended,” he said. “This is the final verdict. My fight is over.”
In recent years, Krauthammer could be found on Fox News giving his thoughtful and often unpredictable opinion on issues of the day, informed by his background as a Harvard-educated psychiatrist and his political studies at McGill University and the University of Oxford.
From 1985 until recently, he wrote a nationally syndicated column for the Washington Post, which showcased the author’s independent views that followed no party line.
Krauthammer was born in New York City in 1950 to Jewish Orthodox parents and grew up in Montreal.
He was confined to a wheelchair early in life at 22 during his first year at Harvard when he hit his head on the bottom of a pool as he swam with friends.
However, he did not let his paralysis define his life, and said that allowing others to judge him by a softer standard would be “the greatest defeat in my life.”
“The worst thing is when they tell me how courageous I am. That drives me to distraction,” he said in an interview with the Washington Post. “I decided if I could make people judge me by the old standard, that would be a triumph and that’s what I try to do. It seemed to me the only way to live.”
Krauthammer won many awards, including the National Magazine Award for his writing at The New Republic in 1984 and a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 1987 for his Washington Post work.
His book Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics, was a longtime New York Times bestseller.
Krauthammer also famously coined the term “Reagan doctrine,” or the “overt and unashamed American support for anti-Communist revolution.”
“Everything I’ve gotten good at I quit the next day to go on to do something else,” he joked to the Washington Post in 1984.
He loved baseball and chess and was a member of the Chess Journalists of America.
His son Daniel and wife Robyn survive him.