Remembering Josh Powell

Roger Kaiser lost a good friend Monday, as did Georgia Tech.

Josh Powell died after a long fight with multiple myeloma at the age of 70. Powell was a teammate of Kaiser, the Tech basketball legend, and more importantly, a friend from their days at Tech until now.

“I’ll remember him as a great friend and a man with a warm heart that was fun to be around,” Kaiser said Tuesday.

Powell was a man of many gifts. Besides his basketball talents – he was part of Tech’s first NCAA tournament team, in 1960, and captained the team in 1962 – he was an accomplished singer and musician and also a pilot. Most interestingly, he graduated from Emory Law School but within months left an Atlanta practice to start his own summer camp – Josh Powell Summer Day Camp – with his wife in Acworth. Started in 1972, it’s still in operation.

Powell’s passing allowed me to dig into the paper’s online archives to read a typically vivid feature written in 1988 by ex-AJC great Jack Wilkinson. After deciding the law wasn’t for him – “I thought, ‘There’s got to be more than this,’” Powell told Jack – he bought land in Cherokee County. Spurred, presumably, by the enjoyment he had working at a sports day camp in Buckhead to help pay for law school, he decided to start a day camp.

Here’s a morsel from the story.

Besides the maintenance, there are buses to gas up and popsicles to pick up for the afternoon treat. And there are all the little things and little people to deal with. To Powell, that’s far more enjoyable than taking depositions. Listen:

“Ben, you doing all right with Cory?” . . . “Claire, why is your face so red?” . . . “Hamilton, did you get all your frogs home alive?”

“He decided he didn’t want to be a lawyer,” Kaiser said. “I said, ‘It took you an awful long time to decide. You go through law school and then you decide you don’t want to be one.’”

Kaiser and Powell traded playful jabs frequently.

“We played together for two years,” Kaiser said. “Of course, somebody asked him what kind of player he was. He said he didn’t get to do much except pass the ball to me and set picks. He didn’t know if he can catch and shoot it or not.”

Powell accused Kaiser of being the teacher’s pet of Jackets coach Whack Hyder.

“I’d always say, ‘Josh, Coach told me that whoever could shoot the best should shoot it,’” Kaiser said. “I said, ‘I could shoot it better than you, so I did.’”

If you’ve attended Tech basketball games in the past, you may well have heard Powell singing the national anthem at Alexander Memorial Coliseum. It sounds like the last time was in the 2009-10 season, when the 1960 team was honored. Powell, wearing his Tech warm-up top, hunched and walking with a cane, belted it out.

He also sang at Braves games and even performed in operas. At the first home football game after 9/11, Powell led Bobby Dodd Stadium in singing “God Bless America.”

Said Kaiser, “It about tore the stadium up.”

(Even this story came with another dig. Kaiser and Powell rode to the stadium together and Powell humbly didn’t even mention to his buddy why he was wearing a tie. Kaiser asked him when the last time he’d been to a football game was, because the days of wearing ties to games were past. Powell replied he was sitting in the west stands and Kaiser said, “Fella, (even) the people in the west stands don’t wear ties anymore.” After they went to their separate seats, Said Kaiser, “I looked up and there he was (on the field). I said, ‘Oh, my gosh.’”)

Kaiser said Powell was independent, honest and giving. It was hard for Kaiser to return the many favors Powell did for him.

A memorial service will be held Sunday at North Avenue Presbyterian Church at 3 p.m. He is survived by his wife Karen and daughter Julie.

Said Kaiser, “He was a good one.”

35 comments Add your comment

Laura

May 17th, 2011
10:15 pm

Roger lost a good friend, but so did thousands of little kids. Rest in peace, Josh!!

65dawg

May 18th, 2011
7:00 am

UGA DAWG here, who was raised a TECH fan by my GT grad Dad. I remember going to all the TECH games just after the Dome was built, seeing Kaiser, Powell and all the rest. Those were ther glory days for Tech, before pro sports invaded Atlanta. Powell was one of my late Dad’s favorites, a guy who busted it on every play, and got the most out of every ounce of talent he had. By now my Dad has asked him to sing God Bless America for God himself!

jdl2

May 18th, 2011
8:30 am

A great man. He will be missed by us all.

Big Jacket

May 18th, 2011
10:26 am

A good man with a great voice. My late Dad was a big fan.

juvenal

May 18th, 2011
10:38 am

just like Kim…..

John McAfee

May 18th, 2011
10:42 am

Not having been in touch w/ Josh in a few years, this comes as a complete shock. Josh to me was larger than life, but I realize now, not immortal. I had the pleasure of attending his club for boys in my youth, being a counselor for him in my teens, and also sending my daughter to his camp as I got older. To me that is a very special Triple Crown.
Josh always stood tall in stature and in morality. He made a huge impression on me during all those years, and I am privileged to have been able to know and learn from him. I have never looked up in reality and spiritually to any other man in my life.
God bless you Josh, and I know your legacy that you left to all the children you mentored made this world a better place…..you touched more lives than you can imagine.
Thank you for that.

Belinda Satterfield Seamen Young

May 18th, 2011
11:04 am

On behalf of my parents Wilton and Jo Satterfield of Canton, Sutella, I wanted to let you know how much Josh meant to all of us. Daddy loved for Josh to come visit and go to Daddy’s sawmill. We were all in Awe of Josh. I will never forget hearing Josh sing our National Anthem at the Atlanta Flames Games. It was a good day for you when you saw Josh Powell and you heard his booming voice. He touched our hearts. Thank you for sharing him with us. May sweet memories wrap around y’all.

david arwood

May 18th, 2011
12:50 pm

I have known Josh for over 30 years. My two sons attended every session of his camp when they were youngsters. Josh loved to attend The Arwood Company auctions where he bought many items and equipment for his camp operation. Often, he would grab a mike and belt out a beautiful song which thrilled all of the attendees. Josh always had a smile and loved everyone. He was truly a great friend and will be greatly missed. He certainly made the world a better place while here. God bless.

John

May 18th, 2011
1:22 pm

Josh was a great American. I attended his Summer Camp for years as did all three of my children. I fondly remember him singing the national anthem and Oh Canada at Flames games as well as when the Expos were in town to play the Braves. God Bless his family

jp in el paso

May 18th, 2011
2:00 pm

I remember him well. I attended North Ave Presbyterian Church through college. He was a kind and gentle man, had a powerful voice.

Jacket Backer

May 18th, 2011
2:22 pm

Rest In Peace Mr. Powell.

Patsy Morris Winchell

May 18th, 2011
3:53 pm

Josh Powell was born & raised a Kentucky boy and still had lots of friends in KY. My family was among those friends. He & Karen visited with many of the KY people who spend the winters in Florida. During one of those visits a few years ago, he and Karen came to one of the “Kentucky breakfasts” in Fort Myers and Josh sang “My Old Kentucky Home”. Heaven’s choir has gained a wonderful voice…. Our thoughts & prayers are with you Karen & Julie

Born2Buzz

May 18th, 2011
3:55 pm

Josh was a great friend of my Dad’s and by extension a friend of mine. He was a big man, with the wonderful booming voice that everyone who met him can hear in their mind’s ear right now. He will be missed by us all.

@ dawg65, thanks for your comments. Your last line made me smile. I’m sure God asked for an encore!

billcanoe

May 18th, 2011
5:03 pm

Josh was a wonderful man and a wonderful Christian friend. He was kind enough to sing at our daughter’s wedding, a wonderful treat that we will remember always. He has touched many, many lives for the better. I know he is with the Lord now.

Jason

May 18th, 2011
5:16 pm

My son has attended his camp for the last 2 years and is set to attend his third and final camp in just a few weeks, once school breaks. Breaks our family’s heart hearing this news.

Tom K

May 18th, 2011
5:21 pm

I worked for the Omni back in the day. Worked on the scoreboard and message boards and clocks. I remember Josh doing such a great job on the National Anthem and O Canada. But I mainly will remember his larger than life presence, and his never ending smile and warm greeting whenever he saw you. He was a great man!

Al

May 18th, 2011
5:42 pm

Josh’s rendition of “How Great Thou Art” at Coach Dodd’s memorial service was tremendous. Something I’ll never forget.

Gatech87

May 18th, 2011
6:19 pm

Greatest guy EVER! I was one of his campers in 71-72. Best time I ever had. I hate to see him go…

JT from GT

May 18th, 2011
7:27 pm

God bless Josh Powell! A true gentlemen who devoted much of his time to showing young children what having fun is all about. My boys and I will miss him!

Camper mom

May 18th, 2011
8:42 pm

I believe Josh Powell is already organizing camp for the kids in heaven.

Elizabaeth Kernen

May 18th, 2011
9:01 pm

Josh and I went to school together, sang together and went to sock hops together. You couldn’t ask for a better friend. He was the perfect Southern Gentleman. The wonderful things he has done for people could fill a book. He will be missed not only by his family but the world of friends that he had. Rest in Peace my dear friend.

Joe Hobbs

May 18th, 2011
9:36 pm

I remember when Josh played. Saw a lot of games in thoses days. My wife died of multiple myeloma in 1978. RIP

JMeyer

May 18th, 2011
11:13 pm

Josh and his family moved from KY to my hometown of Springfield, TN while he was at Tech. During the summers he was a life guard and help the local football coach with his summer day camp for kids. Maybe that is where he got the idea for his camp. I had pretty much made up my mind to go to Georgia Tech, but meeting Josh and getting to know him was enough to clinch it for me. Josh was a great person, and a true “Son of Tech”. He will be missed. People like Josh Powell just do not come along everyday.

Edith

May 19th, 2011
8:41 am

I attended Mr. Powell’s camp many years ago and my son does now. He was a good man who let us kids be kids. I remember trekking through a muddy creek bed and canoeing around his lake, I remember his laugh, loud and deep. He was a great guy and I am sorry to hear he is no longer here to laugh and mud trek with the kids at his wonderful camp.

Bill Witcher

May 19th, 2011
6:13 pm

I was at Tech and Emory Law School with Josh.He could have been a great trial lawyer but he was better with the kids.Everybody loved him!

Jo Ann Cooper

May 19th, 2011
8:00 pm

My husband (Earl) and I loved to spend time with Josh. I always told Josh he needed to write a book as he had so many wonderful stories to tell. I will miss our e-mail stories and our time spent in Goodland, Fl. Things will never be quite the same. We will Miss you so Much Josh.
Our prayers go out to his wonderful wife Karen.
Earl and Jo Ann

Techster

May 19th, 2011
8:29 pm

I am shocked to hear of Josh’s passing even though I should have probably been more astute when I last saw him walking with a cane on the court to sing the National Anthem at a Tech basketball game at AMC a few years ago. Josh was a year behind me at Tech and I was a basketball junkie who watched my guys (Kaiser, Richards, Dews, Hoffman and Poteet) play every game during their freshman year. So far, I don’t see any mention that Josh succumbed to the same malady that took Kim King from us several years ago. May they both compare notes and memories in Heaven.

techfansince1980

May 19th, 2011
8:59 pm

great man, with so many gifts. What a great voice.

Camp Father

May 19th, 2011
9:42 pm

The most generous man in the camp business. I hope his family continues the wonderful legacy they now control. My sons are attending again this summer. I would loveyo help out at the camp, if needed.

Austin's Mom

May 19th, 2011
11:41 pm

Josh was such a caring man with such a wonderful presence. My son attended 5 weeks of camp as a rising kindergartener even though they don’t officially start til rising first graders. Josh and Karen took my son under their wings and he developed a very special relationship with them. He loved to take Josh popcicles and help Karen with her chores. He is going back for his third year in a couple weeks. He will miss dear Josh but has saved lot’s of hugs for Ms. Karen and is ready to do chores. My thoughts and prayers are with the family.

Frank Hall

May 20th, 2011
1:50 pm

I was a freshman on baseball scholarship in 1960-61 school year, and ate in the Athletic dining Hall. I recall many occasions there sharing a table with Josh. Two memories stand out in my mind. He was a gentleman who made a real effort to make a nervous, seemingly out of place freshman feel welcome at his table, and i never saw one man eat more scrambled eggs for breakfast! Josh set a great example for the image a collegiate student-athlete should reflect. My sincere condolences to his family and friends.

ERIKA AND FRED BAROFSKY

May 20th, 2011
4:08 pm

JOSH WILL BE MISSED HERE BY ALL OF US IN SANDCASTLE 2 IN MARCO ISLAND,FLORIDA

ERIKA AND FRED BAROFSKY

May 20th, 2011
4:09 pm

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Boh Holtzclaw

May 22nd, 2011
12:47 pm

We grew up together on our families’ two farms in KY, spending the night at each other’s house, playing basketball with our goals nailed to the shed — Josh, I admit I cheated on the court at my house: I knew where the holes were in the yard; where the roots were hiding in the dirt that would make the ball go awry when you tried to dribble …but then how could I compete otherwise? Josh, when I lost my son, you were there. Well, as I read all of these comments, I can see that you will truly be missed. The last song — the song you sang at our high school commencement in 1958 — “It’s Twilight Time.” See you soon. Bobby/Hosey.

Keith H. Cook

May 22nd, 2011
10:27 pm

Although a UGA graduate, I worked for Josh at his Buckhead Club for Boys in the early 70s. We would take kids camping on Friday nights on the land he was developing for his Summer Camp. Josh often said, “Always leave the woodpile higher than you found it.” He always did.