August 16, 1932 – July 19, 2017
Shelly Powell went to walk with his Lord on July 19th, after a lengthy battle with ALS. He was 84 years old. Born in 1932 in Clarksdale, MS he moved to Waukegan, IL at a young age and grew up there. He was preceded in death by his parents Shelly Powell and Anne Cunningham, as well as his beloved step-father Isaiah “Big Daddy” Cunningham. Shelly was married for 61 years to Vernell Powell and had 2 adult children, John Powell of Yucaipa, CA and Cynthia Agnew of Fort Mill, SC, as well as daughter-in-law Pam Powell and son in law John Agnew. Shelly had 6 grandchildren whom he loved dearly, Donnell Powell, Jerrell Powell, Rachel McCorkle, Danielle Agnew, Conor Agnew, and Michael Agnew. He also enjoyed his four great grand children, Matthew, Devyn, Austin, and Jeremiah. He is also survived by a sister and two brothers, all in Waukegan.
A service to celebrate the life of Mr. Powell will be held 11:00 AM, Tuesday, the 25th of July 2017 at the Good Shepheard United Methodist Church, Zoar Campus, 13611 Zoar Road, Charlotte, NC 28278. Inurnment will follow with military honors in the church columbarium.
Shelly lived a vibrant and diverse life. He served in the US Army as an MP in Germany during the Korean War era, drove a City bus in Chicago, got his accounting degree from DePaul University and went on to earn a Masters degree in Accounting. He was a lifetime educator, teaching Accounting at numerous schools, including Fordham University in NYC. He was also a proud 20+ year employee of IBM where he ended his career as the Manager of General Accounting. He also served as an auditor for GM and for the US government, where he spent time working with Bobby Kennedy. Even in retirement, he stayed active teaching, tutoring, he even got a real estate license and bought and sold homes.
A natural athlete, Shelly’s love of basketball and track were replaced by tennis as he got older. Highly competitive, he took great satisfaction in carving up his friends in friendly play, as well as competing with Vernell in mixed doubles matches. As his grand children began playing, “Poppy” was a fixture on the sidelines of their soccer and basketball games, even traveling extensively to attend out of state soccer tournaments. Fitness oriented for most of his life, he was often in the gym even into his 80’s.
He saw a great deal of this country as it changed. He witnessed and endured the effects of segregation in profound and highly personal ways, yet never gave in to bitterness or despair. He simply continued working to problem solve and make things better. As an example, when local banks would not lend money to young African American executives at IBM seeking to buy homes back in the 1960’s, he lobbied senior management to use the power of IBM to right this wrong, which the company did. A proud and lifelong Democrat, Shelly enjoyed reading and staying current with politics, sports, and ensuring that a civil and fair society was left for those who followed him.
Shelly has passed on, but he was deeply loved and respected and will be missed by his family and those who knew him. But we take comfort in knowing that we will see him again.