RICHARD POWELL OBITUARY
Richard Anthony “Dick” Powell, a blue-eyed seancha¡ with a soft Irish brogue, died peacefully hand-in-hand with his wife on March 16, 2022, in Carlsbad, California. He was 80.
Dick left his native Ireland and came to America a thousand dollars in debt, armed with a great education, $500 in his pocket, “lambchop” sideburns, a gold front tooth, and a job with Arthur Anderson. It was 1968. Just six months later, at a rooftop party on a rare sunny Palm Sunday in San Francisco, Dick met the love of his life: Kathleen “Kate” Sullivan, a gregarious Kalamazoo transplant known for her style, street smarts, and signature red hair. Three weeks later, Dick and Kate were engaged. And so, the adventure began.
Their path would take them from their first nest in Sausalito, to the Silk Roads of Hong Kong, the beaches of West Marin, the rolling hills of Palos Verdes, the Nishi-Azabu district of Tokyo, Chicago’s Lincoln Park, and back full circle to Sausalito, where they spent 20 years perched on the hillside watching ships come and go in San Francisco Bay. Last year, they moved south to Carlsbad, staying close to the Pacific, gravitating toward sunshine, support, and family.
Curious, quick, and kind, Dick embodied a quiet strength that never came at another’s expense. He dressed like an easter egg, sporting polos and cashmere in pastel pinks, blues, and greens, along with his ever-present khakis. His stories became legendary. He regaled all with characters like “Maxi the Conger King,” who lost a thumb to a hungry eel while fishing in Dunmore East, or the French Legionnaire with the screw-on hook “hand” whom Dick hired during his career in international shipping management to drive cargo through striking Teamsters.
After he retired, good fortune would find Dick and his old friend Ewan Macdonald in a Boston Whaler, crashing through the surf off Bolinas Lagoon, with seagulls flying overhead. On very special days, they would limit out on salmon and Dungeness crab.
Dick’s persona is best described by “Pops Powell’s Guiding Principles,” shared at his 50th wedding anniversary in 2019.
Remember your dignity. Do the dirty work first. Be on time. Get the big decisions right (partner, children, education, home). Listen. Answer the question. Be helpful. Share the load. Travel. Live within your means. Be true to yourself. Live large. Trust your partner. Know the difference between transmit and receive. Don’t whine. Eat dinner at a round table with your family. Start saving early and don’t stop. Take the little villages first. Don’t major in the minors. Take risks. Have fun. Make “to do” lists. Never fire anybody on a Friday. Calibrate your choice of career with your lifestyle expectations. Leave your work in the workplace. Family first. Ippo, ippo.
Diagnosed with a heart defect at just 37 years old, Dick lived the next 43 years on borrowed time, never wasting a moment, fueled by joy, gratitude, and Johnny Walker Red. Unlike his own father, who died too young at 42, Dick lived to see his family grow in love and talent when his son Caleb (“Spuds”) married Ann Connaghan, his daughter Meghan O’Ryan married Warren Spieker, and his son Peter Finnegan married Liz Howekamp. That joy blossomed as he came to know and love each of his 10 grandkids: Emmet, Mary Clare, Finnegan, Wes, Quinn, Margot, Liam, Rogan, Lucy, and Deacon.
Dick was predeceased by his sister, Pat. In addition to his wife, kids and grandkids, Dick is survived by his brother, Peter, as well as numerous beloved nieces and nephews. Family in Ireland, England, France, Australia, and New Zealand have shed tears and shared toasts to honor “Dicker.”
When asked what he wanted in his obituary, Dick was adamant: “Thank Stano.” Some 74 years ago, a young Dublin widow mourned her husband’s death. Unable to afford her children’s education, she sought grace from Father Stanley, principal of the local boys’ elementary school. “Send me your boys,” he proclaimed. Father Stanley’s decisive generosity set Dick on a path to Blackrock College, University College Dublin, and a world of opportunity. Equally important, it was a kindness that Dick never forgot.
Arrangements for a memorial service will be forthcoming. In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution to scholarships at Willow Park School or Blackrock College. Donations can be made to the Access Blackrock program by contacting Johnny O’Shea, Head of Development, at [email protected] .
Published by Marin Independent Journal on Apr. 3, 2022.
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MEMORIES & CONDOLENCES
FOR RICHARD POWELL
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What an exceptional couple Dick and Kate were. Never a dull moment when you were in their company.
Frank A Duffy
January 10, 2023
Have fond memories of fun and laughter in Dunmore East, Ireland, and of the kindness shown to me by Dick and Kate when my husband died in Chicago in 1995.
December 4, 2022
Sincere sympathy to Kate and family. Great memories of school Blackrock Baths and wonderful holiday in San Francisco with Dick Kate and Eamonn andLouise.
Mairin and Dermot O Sullivan
April 21, 2022
Dear Kate (and family),
My deepest condolences at the passing of your beloved “Dickster”. I can still hear the lilt of his Irish brogue whether on stage reciting poetry at the SWC or mingling with the crowd at events. How lucky you were to have found each other. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family as you mourn the loss of this dear man.
April 4, 2022
I t was an honor and pleasure spending time and laughter with you. Amen, pal
April 4, 2022
Dicker was an original and a great friend. We will miss him but feel blessed to have big Red and so many other Powells as enduring friends. God bless, Dick.
John and Ellen Weingart
April 3, 2022
My since sympathies to Kate and whole family on the passing of Dick. I know he was well loved with good reason by his large circle of friends and family.