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Charles Krauthammer Dead at 68

He penned a letter saying he had just weeks to live.

(CNN Money) -- Legendary conservative intellectual Charles Krauthammer, whose columns and commentary shaped American politics for generations, has died. He was 68.

Krauthammer's death was confirmed by the Washington Post, where he had been a columnist for more than 30 years — an extraordinary run that was a testament to his larger-than-life status.

Krauthammer was one of the best-known columnists in America. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 1987. He also earned a National Magazine Award in 1984.

But he had to curtail his work last summer for health reasons. And on June 8, Krauthammer announced that he had "only a few weeks left to live."

He was confronting an aggressive form of cancer, so he informed his readers that he was ending his column.

"I leave this life with no regrets," he wrote in the farewell message. "It was a wonderful life -- full and complete with the great loves and great endeavors that make it worth living. I am sad to leave, but I leave with the knowledge that I lived the life that I intended."

The Post's executive editor Marty Baron said Thursday that Krauthammer's death was "a huge loss to vigorous and civil debate on public policy."

Krauthammer was also a longtime commentator on Fox News. Fox's programs and websites mourned his death on Thursday evening.

FoxNews.com called him the "dean of conservative commentators" and "arguably a Renaissance man," describing his mastery "in such disparate fields as psychiatry, speech-writing, print journalism and television."

Indeed, Krauthammer was a master of multiple mediums. Krauthammer regularly appeared on Fox's "Special Report" program until last summer. On Thursday's program, panelist Charles Lane saidKrauthammer's position at the table -- instantly recognizable to Fox viewers -- should be retired, the same way a hall of famer's number is retired.

"Special Report" anchor Bret Baier tweeted on Thursday, "R.I.P. good friend. I am sure you will be owning the panel discussion in heaven as well. And we'll make sure your wise words and thoughts -- your legacy -- will live on here."

Fox will continue to pay tribute to Krauthammer through an hour-long special on Friday at 9 p.m. Eastern.

The Washington Post is publishing a full page dedicated to Krauthammer in Friday's paper, featuring some of his work over the decades and a column by George F. Will.

Noting how Krauthammer was "paralyzed from the neck down" in a college accident, Will said he "drew on reserves of energy and willpower to overcome a multitude of daily challenges, any one of which would cause most people to curl up in a fetal position."

Multiple generations of journalists, commentators and politicians said they were heartbroken by his passing.

"Gutted by this news," Meghan McCain tweeted. "The greatest political commentator of my generation — a true conservative icon. I will miss him and his commentary terribly."

"God rest Charles Krauthammer's soul," CNN commentator Amanda Carpenter wrote. "Let us reflect on the thoughtfulness, curiosity, and class he brought to our national conversations."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement he was "deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my friend Charles Krauthammer."

"As a writer, speaker, and commentator, Charles served our society as a public intellectual in the truest sense," McConnell said.

Krauthammer had to step away from his jobs last August for surgery to remove what he called "a cancerous tumor in my abdomen." There were numerous complications.

When Krauthammer shared the devastating news about his prognosis earlier this month, Vice President Mike Pence paid tribute to him in a statement.

Pence said the columnist's "wit, his wisdom, and his tireless defense of Western values have made an indelible mark on the minds of millions of Americans."

Rupert Murdoch, the executive chairman of Fox News, said in a statement at the time, "Charles has been a profound source of personal and intellectual inspiration for all of us at Fox News. His always principled stand on the most important issues of our time has been a guiding star in an often turbulent world, a world that has too many superficial thinkers vulnerable to the ebb and flow of fashion, and a world that, unfortunately, has only one Charles Krauthammer. His words, his ideas, his dignity and his integrity will resonate within our society and within me for many, many years to come."

PHOTO: CNN Newsource

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