Editorial: Vernon Powell -- Mr. PC -- will be missed by many

We will miss his stories and his jokes, often one in the same. We will miss his friendship and his intelligence.

We wager not many people knew his first name was Leo. Leo Vernon Powell died March 9 on his birthday. He was 93. Leo was his given name, but people called him either Vernon or Mr. Powell. We think of him as Mr. PC. He was director of food services at Presbyterian College at two different times that totaled decades. First, from 1947 until 1960 (except for service in the U.S. Army during the Korean Conflict). He was then in the private restaurant business for a number of years before returning to PC in 1977, where he stayed until retiring in 1999. We urge our readers to take the time to read Mr. Powell’s obituary on Page 5B. It’s a fascinating history of a fascinating man and we imagine he had a hand in its creation. In addition to his culinary expertise, he was a man who had a way with words, both spoken and written. We wanted to feature him in our Salute to Veterans in 2014. Instead, he submitted the text of the Memorial Day speech he gave that year in a ceremony in downtown Clinton. It was good and vintage Vernon Powell. Vernon Powell was long a member of both the VFW and the American Legion. He was active in the Clinton Kiwanis Club for years and served as director, president and Lt. Governor. During his times at PC, the college hosted many large banquets for the community. The Laurens County Chamber of Commerce’s annual banquet was held in Greenville Dining Hall. The Laurens County Touchdown Club’s annual banquet was held there. The large dining hall would be packed. But Vernon Powell, in his inimitable way, would direct the hoards through two serving lines – there were always two serving lines – with precision and little waiting. It was a joy to watch him work the room He opened the dining hall to the community for Sunday lunch and that delicious fried chicken, a practice that continues to this day. He was remembered for this by a former student: “I will always remember the fine Sunday lunch he put together when the town folks came to join us. He sure was dedicated to PC.” A former staff member wrote this: “He always treated everyone as though they were a special guest in his house.” And this on Facebook: “Wow, a flood of memories come rushing back. Who knew one could get so creative with Jello? But I have to agree, the Sunday fried chicken was hands down the best. And as one of his many student workers during my college days, I especially appreciate what he taught me about work.” Vernon Powell was the first to admit he couldn’t do what he did without his wonderful staff and the Blue Ladies, who kept the dining hall organized and provided a comfortable setting for both students and members of the community. Retired professor Dr. David Gillespie (read his column today on the facing page) wrote this: “I imagine that a choir of elderly ‘Blue Lady’ angels was waiting there to greet him…Mr. P., you were one of the good ones. Really, really good.” As dedicated as Vernon Powell was to Presbyterian College – he embodied the motto: dum vivimus servimus (While We Live We Serve) – he was more dedicated and more in love with his wife of 64.5 years, Velma Pearl Beaty Powell, who died in 2007. We hope PC will do something to remember Mr. PC. He deserves it. We will miss his stories and his jokes, often one in the same. We will miss his friendship and his intelligence. As he said in his 2014 Memorial Day speech, quoting the words to “Taps.” “Day is done. Gone the sun, from the hills, from the lakes, from the skies. All is well. Safely rest, God is nigh.”

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