William Henslee Powell, Jr. was born at home on Oct. 14, 1929 in Lufkin, Texas. Family legend says he was actually born on the 13th but his mom would not have a child born on what she considered an unlucky day. Bill grew up in Texas and spent the majority of his youth in Corpus Christi attending Menger Elementary, Wynn Seale and Corpus Christi High School. Before his senior year his parents moved to San Antonio where he graduated from Alamo Heights High School. While there he met Gretchen Berkey who later became his wife.
After graduation from high school, Bill attended Baylor University. That summer he took his band, the Dubbie Powell Band, on the road. They were paid $800 for a two-week gig. The following fall he enrolled at The University of Texas, joining his beloved fraternity ATO, where he later served as president. During that time there was a military draft. The Air Force offered a one- year plan to enlist rather than being drafted. Bill and his life-long friend Karl Arnold, enlisted together. Bill’s duty was to work as a pharmacy tech and play in the band at the Officer’s Club.
Following his service to his country Bill returned to UT where he received a bachelor’s degree from the school of pharmacy. After graduating, Bill and Gretchen married in 1953. They had five wonderful children: Leslie Hlavinka; William H. Powell, III (Lisa); Stephen Russell Powell, (Kelli); John Berkey Powell (Chrissy) and Christopher Harrison Powell (Michele). He was blessed with 18 grandchildren and three-great-grandchildren. Bill and Gretchen were happily married for 49 wonderful years until her death in 2001. Three years later, Bill and Linda Hanser Giddings were married and spent 14 happy years together. He gained two step daughters, Laura Giddings Coulter (John) and Tracy Elizabeth Fraiche (Rob), three more grandchildren and another great-granddaughter. He and Linda enjoyed several memorable trips around the states and Europe.
In 1956, Bill established Bel-Aire Drugs and operated the pharmacy for more than 50 years. Bel-Aire Drugs had one of the only food fountains in town and the hamburgers and fries were legendary. Bill was an old-time pharmacist who talked to his customers and explained all their medications. More than once he went to his store at night to hand deliver prescriptions to a sick customer. He worked long hours, missing many baseball games and recitals but was very proud of sending five children to college, each of them receiving degrees.
Bill loved old cars and had four Cadillacs, three Fiats, an Alpha Romeo and a few others that actually ran. But enough about those cars! Bill was a dedicated father and grandfather and loved his family unconditionally. He was a good and faithful husband who will be greatly missed.
Bill is predeceased by his parents, Duchess and William H. Powell, Sr., his first wife, Gretchen Berkey Powell. He is survived by his wife Linda Powell, his sister Virginia Powell Webb, children, grandchildren and great- grandchildren. He passed away on June 6 due to complications from colon cancer.
A celebration of his life will be held on Tuesday, June 12 at the First Baptist Chapel, 3115 Ocean Drive at 3:30 pm. A reception will follow in the parlor.
Memorials may be made in Bill’s name to the New Rise School, 744 Everhart, CC, 78411.