James Newton Powell Jr of Plainwell, MI., died November 8th, 2023
The Art of Stopping Time
Jim's story begins and ends with his love of capturing images. Photography was his life, which he studied at Southern Illinois University. He found himself with a few others with the same love and they created a fraternity of sorts. Some might call them photo nerds or what have you but Bruce, Terry, and Chuck had their own fraternity and shared all things photography. It was the golden era in the business a time long before everyone with an Iphone became a photographer. It was an art form. After the tumultuous year of 1969 in the backdrop of the war he left for Kalamazoo with Judy to start his business Jim Powell Photography. Of all places Kalamazoo was the launch pad for a long career that spanned clients from Eddie Bauer, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Stryker, Upjohn, Ford, GM, Boeing, Raytheon, Continental Airlines, AON, Oscar Meyer, Sea Ray, the US Army, and Walmart among others. Throughout the years Landscape Forms was always at his heart and the relationship spanned over 40 years and took them to many beautiful locations and produce many beautiful images. His work took him to far flung places from Brazil for the Kellogg Foundation, to Europe to an Indian reservation in New Mexico. His work with the Foundation had a profound impact on him. Behind the lens he saw first hand the strife, the struggle, and love that children worldwide experienced. His book Blessed with Children is the evidence of everything he saw. In totality it was one hell of an adventure and a success by any measure that would span his entire life and allow him to pursue his passion of capturing images.
After the passing of Judy in 1996, he found a partner and love again with Nora. They shared a passion for friends, food and travel. Jim and Nora traveled the world when not at home exploring France, Italy, St. Barthelemy, the Out Islands of the Bahamas and others. They shared a love of travel, people, food, and seeing the other side of things. It was during the warmer months they enjoyed cooking and entertaining for a long list of friends 'out on the deck' over looking Pine Lake a place Jim moved his family to in 1980 after the big tornado in Kalamazoo. It was an idyllic setting and provided a Tom Sawyer like existence for the boys. Fishing , swimming, water skiing were the activities of summer
For Nora and Jim it was these friendships on those long summer nights that may have included a few extra bottles of wine that they both loved the most. The simple and wonderful connection to their friends and family brought them happiness. And they loved to share it. It's said somewhere that your lucky to have enough friends to count on one hand. They had five times that many. For those that were there they will surely remember Jim with apron and all making his famous souffles and coming out onto the deck with powdered sugar everywhere but where it should be, only to be followed by coffee, maybe the pear brandy and a lot of fun. These long wandering warm nights filled with laughter, food, wine, and a lot of love were truth in fact what Jim loved the most. His friends and family were his ethos.
His other love was golf. You could say his "mastery" of the game came up short for those in know, but in fact what he truly loved was the 'camaraderie' of his band of brothers the
'gang' Jimmy, Herbie, Shecky, TV, Mark, Bob, Coop, Reno & Jon. All he ever wanted but unfortunately never achieved, was to be an 18. While he came up short in that quest he had a long list of 'unfortunate' shots that provided him with level of infamy for sure and a bit of legend.
His love of his family : his children Josh, Noah, Scott , Brandon, and Abbey were second to none. Accept his grandkids who took precedent with the arrival of Eva, Elijah, Naomi, Miriam , Olivia, and Maggie. His love was second to none and he adored discussing the world with them from politics, to school, to his favorite topic Michigan Football. In his final days he told his family "we better beat that god &*% team from Ohio if I'm not going to be there". It's rumored other words / profanity were said as it related to the Ohio coach, sign stealing nonsense but was deemed not appropriate for such an obituary.
Jim was taken to the Western Michigan University Medical School body donation program. We hope they learn something to help prevent this awful disease of cancer. We must prevail in beating this.