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My friends call me Jerd'n

By Brian Williams, Anchor and managing editor

Too much sadness lately. I received word at home last night that Hamilton Jordan had died.

My wife and I had dinner with Hamilton and his family a few months ago in Georgia. He was carrying his ever-present oxygen tanks that evening, without complaint. He matter-of-factly ran through his most recent medical procedures, surgeries and treatments and talked only about his family and the future. He was the personification of bravery in the face of illness. His bestselling book, No Such Thing As A Bad Day, survives him as a monument to courage and positive thinking.

Image: Former Chief of Staff of President Jimmy Carter Hamilton Jordan In journalism, we no longer say things like "cancer victim" -- a phrase that was still in active use just a few years ago. Instead, we try to talk about those "living with cancer." Hamilton Jordan truly lived WITH cancer -- and taught everyone around him how to do the same. In life, he was devoted to his family--and to Jimmy Carter.

While his surname is quite common, his preferred pronunciation was not. Introducing himself in Washington, he was known to tell a first-time acquaintance, "My friends call me Jerd'n."

Some resented the forced customization, and when he became a public figure, not all television anchors of the day went along. Hamilton played a big role in then-Governor Jimmy Carter's amazing victory in 1976. At 34, he was the youngest White House Chief of Staff in American history. He was brash, impatient, intense, irreverent and obsessed with his boss's Presidency. He was a political animal, from a political family -- who was moved to enter the trade after watching Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. march through his native Georgia.

Hamilton died at home last night at the age of 63. He suffered from mesothelioma. He leaves his lovely wife Dorothy and their three beautiful children. He also leaves behind Camp Sunshine and Camp Kudzu, summer camps for children with cancer and juvenile diabetes. Hamilton's legacy will be with us for ages to come. It's Hamilton we will miss.

We hope you can join us for tonight's broadcast.

You can watch the video about Jordan from Nightly News here.