An icon of the civil rights movement has died. Benjamin Hooks passed away early Thursday at his home in Memphis, Tennessee. A fighter for civil rights for nearly seven decades, Hooks spent his latter years in the pulpit, where he never missed an opportunity to preach on opportunity. He died at his home with wife Frances at his side. "I think he accomplished far more than he thought could accomplish," she said after his passing. The biggest accomplishment was saving the NAACP from certain demise. Hooks became executive director in 1977, just as the organization faced mounting debt and dwindling membership. Long before that, in 1965, Hooks burst onto the national scene as the Souths first state court judge, then under President Nixon ,served as the first black member of the Federal Communications Commission. For all of it, Hooks was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007 by then-President George W. Bush. Benjamin Hooks dedicated his life to ending racial discrimination following an experience as an Army sergeant in World War II, guarding Italian prisoners of war who were allowed to eat in a "whites-only" dining hall that he, as a black man, couldnt enter.