Donald Rumsfeld, the oldest—and youngest—defense secretary in American history, has died. Relatives said in a statement Wednesday that the 88-year-old "was surrounded by family in his beloved Taos, New Mexico," the AP reports. A family spokesman says the cause was multiple myeloma. Rumsfeld, who grew up in Illinois and represented the state in the House for six years before serving in Richard Nixon's administration. was the only defense secretary to serve nonconsecutive terms, the New York Times reports. He was 43 years old when he became Pentagon chief but is far better known for his second stint in the role, which started in 2001. In George W. Bush's administration, Rumsfeld became one of the main architects of the Iraq war.
Between the two periods as defense secretary, Rumsfeld worked in the private sector. He ran for president in 1988, but ended up pulling out before the Republican primaries. Rumsfeld resigned in 2006 amid controversy over his handling of the Iraq war, but he never apologized for bringing the US into what became widely seen as a quagmire, the Guardian reports. In 2011 memoir Known and Unknown, he did not express regrets, saying getting rid of Saddam Hussein's regime "has created a more stable and secure world." Rumsfeld—described in his family's statement as "an American statesman and devoted husband, grandfather, and great grandfather," is survived by relatives including his wife Joyce. (Read more Donald Rumsfeld stories.)