Eddie Powell always put others first and was often described as “the nicest man I ever met.” His deep love of family, a teasing manner, broad smiles and warm hugs defined him. His friendliness and positive personality and a genuine desire to find common ground with others created meaningful friendships with people from all walks of life.
His legacy is an exemplary life of love for family, a strong commitment to community and public service, and as former Mayor and tireless supporter of North Little Rock.
He lived his faith in God through humility and service to others. He asked NOT to be remembered for his accomplishments but simply wanted to express his gratitude for those in his life who meant so much to him.
Paul Edwin “Eddie” Powell, 78, of North Little Rock, passed away peacefully at home in the loving arms of his family on September 11, 2019, following a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. He was born in Little Rock on October 27, 1940, the only child of Thelma Marie and Paul Raymond Powell of North Little Rock (both deceased).
He is survived by his loving wife Margaret who he married in 1997 and they shared the happiest 23 years of their lives. The blessings of blending two large families made their lives complete. His greatest joy was spending time with family and became a beloved, respected influence in their lives. “PawPaw” was adored by 16 grandchildren and 1 great granddaughter.
Eddie is also survived by daughter Shannon (Tom) Smiatek of North Little Rock, grandchildren Jarrod Smiatek and great granddaughter Xaida Smiatek of Springdale, and Morgan Smiatek of North Little Rock; son Brent (Misty) Powell and grandchildren Gracie, Cy, Lydia, Alice and Amelia Powell of Birmingham, AL.
He is survived by additional beloved family members; Rex and Sandy Robbins, Megan Weatherford, Kelly Robbins and Mary Robbins; Aunt Mildred Chandler and Uncle Don Powell; 1st Cousins: Kevin Newsom, Kent Walker, Cheryl Rainey, Mitch Chandler, Elizabeth Mercer, Matt Chandler, Cyndy Taylor, Kriste Nunnally, Charles Keith Neaville, Veletta Hall, Brenda McDonald, David Ray, Karen Ferguson, Randa Ragan, Charles Tobey, Barbara Manson, and George Nuckolls.
He also leaves behind members of Margaret’s family who loved Eddie as their own: daughter Laura (David) Marsh and grandchildren Jordan, Alex, Wesley and David of Fayetteville; son Chris (Tiffany) Haas and grandchildren Maggie, Josh, Jake, Luke, and Ella Grace of Fayetteville; and daughter Jennifer Haas of Fayetteville.
Her sisters and brother occupied a special place in his life: Dina (Jeff) Nash of Maumelle, Martha (Jim) Parks of Dallas, Becky (Trent) Felton of Marianna, and John Reynolds of Little Rock. He helped care for his Mother- in -law Dena Reynolds as if she were his own during her last five years of life.
In his senior year, Eddie was elected Student Body President and named “Friendliest Boy” at North Little Rock High School and graduated with the proud Class of 1958. He sang in a popular music group “The Starlights” (dressed in iconic White Sports Coats and a Pink Carnation) and used his golden radio voice during high school and college as a part-time popular DJ on local radio stations KXLR, NLR and KVRC, Arkadelphia. One classmate wrote “You don’t get to meet very many people in a lifetime as special as Eddie Powell. Everyone loved him. He will be sorely missed.”
Following high school, he attended Henderson State University one year before transferring to the University of North Carolina to pursue a dream of becoming a military pilot. Disappointed to be disqualified due to his eyesight, he returned to Henderson where he earned a BA degree in Psychology in 1962. In 2008, he was accepted into the Henderson Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame.
Upon college graduation, Eddie joined the U.S. Army as a Commissioned Officer in 1962, where he served with distinction for 3 years. He received an Army Commendation Medal for his personal and professional conduct and ability to work with others. He considered making the Army a career, but resigned from active duty in 1965 to return to civilian life. He was Honorably Discharged from the Army Reserves in 1972.
Returning home, he become a sales representative and eventually President of Jack Powell (Food Brokers) Company and raised his family in North Little Rock. During his successful business career, he was responsible for a substantial increase in retail growth between 1973-1995 and won numerous National and Regional Company of the Year awards. After 35 years in business, he retired in 1996.
Alderman Powell was elected to the NLR City Council taking office in 1973. He served as Mayor from 1974-79 when fellow City Council members appointed him acting mayor in June 1974 after Mayor Rosamond resigned. In a special election in September, he won the popular vote with a theme “This is Eddie Powell Country!” He was re-elected in the 1976 general election and resigned in 1979 to return to his demanding full-time job at the Jack Powell Company.
Among his many accomplishments, Mayor Powell led the city in developing innovative police and sanitation programs, attracted $8 million in HUD storm sewer drainage project funds, built 3 new fire stations, established the NLR Public Building Authority, enabled the city to build a U.S. Weather Station, led a drive to create sbond issues to expand Memorial Hospital, built a major Pershing railroad underpass, and established the NLR History Commission, Advertising and Promotion Commission, and the Senior Citizens Center Commission.
Wishing to contribute to the health and well-being of seniors, Eddie approached Mayor Hays in 2000 about building a senior center in North Little Rock. Mayor Hays appointed him Chairman of the Building Task Force, and he organized public forums to hear vital comments and suggestion from the community upon which center plans would be formulated. He guided the process was said to have a calmness when talking to people and leading the meetings that helped them feel comfortable that it was in good hands.
Mayor Hays appointed Eddie to the Senior Citizens Commission in 2002 prior to its completion in 2003 of the first $5 million construction phase of the “gold standard” Patrick Henry Hays Senior Citizens Center. Due to the center’s popularity, Powell also served as chairman of the $5 million expansion completed in 2007.
In 2001, Mayor Hays appointed him to a seven-member interim committee that initiated the merger of the NLR and LR water utilities. He is credited as playing an integral role in the process to form Central Arkansas Water (CAW) which now serves 450,000 people. He became a charter commissioner and during his tenure held many offices including commission chairman three times.
Mayor Joe Smith called Powell “absolutely the perfect Southern gentleman. You couldn’t ask for a better citizen or a better friend anywhere. He was a proud public servant who rose above politics to bring civility to the public arena.”
Civic involvements and honors include serving on the Boards of Youth Home, American Red Cross, Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Arkansas Repertory Theatre, VP North Little Rock Chamber, NLR Boys and Girls Hall of Fame, NLR Senior Citizens Hall of Fame, and achieving 32nd Degree Mason with his Dad.
Active at Lakewood United Methodist Church, he was a lay speaker, active on numerous committees including heading the Finance Committee and Chairman of the Board, sang in the Chancel Choir and rang in the bell choir.
He was a skillful snow skier and took pride in sharing his love for skiing with his children and grandchildren. He enjoyed scuba diving (instructor), water skiing, exercising at the Hays Center, became a Master Gardner and often worked in the yard, studied classical piano at a young age and began composing piano music in later years.
In retirement, he welcomed each new day early with a positive attitude, enjoyed a strong cup of coffee, read the paper, reviewed pre-opening stock market news, and made an energetic plan to accomplish the day’s tasks.
“Top Gun was his favorite movie, and he enjoyed watching NCIS, National Geographic, and the History Channel. He was very sentimental and loved to settle down together at night with a sweet Hallmark movie. Spending time together with our children and grandchildren made him the happiest! His memory will live forever in our hearts”, Margaret said.
Visitation is set for Friday, September 27, from 5:00-7:00 p.m. at Lakewood United Methodist Church, 1922 Topf Road in North Little Rock. A Memorial Service is at 2:00 p.m. Saturday, September 28 at Lakewood Methodist.
Memorials are the best way to honor his memory: Lakewood United Methodist Church, the Thea Foundation (www.theafoundation.org), or the Hays Center Senior Citizens Outreach Services.
To send flowers to Paul's family, please visit our floral section.