Billy R. Powell
July 28, 1936 - May 17, 2023
Billy Ray Powell passed away peacefully on May 17, 2023, with Ingrid (his wife) and Ryan (his son) by his side. Billy is survived by Ingrid, his devoted wife of 62 years, daughter Karen w/ SIL David Bumgardner, and son Ryan Powell w/ DIL Carrie Lawson. He is also survived by his grandchildren, whom he loved dearly: Justin and Lauren Bumgardner and his beloved 11 y/o Preslee Powell. Billy also has two great-granddaughters, Zoey Bumgardner and Marlowe (Lauren Bumgardner) Smith. His nephew Gary (Mary) Powell and niece, Connie (John)Richmond have wonderful memories of their Uncle Billy. Lastly, he is survived by his brother Roy (Priscilla) Powell. Billy was preceded in death by his parents, Curtis and Jewel Powell, brother Devon, and sister Eva Dale Burgess.
Billy had two great loves, the first was his wife of 62 years and the second was listening to Elvis.
His love of Elvis’ music was so undeniable, Ryan and Carrie named their daughter, Billy’s last grandchild, Preslee. Billy, Ryan, Carrie, and Preslee sang along to Elvis whenever possible. During the last couple of years, he found comfort in listening and singing along to hymns sung by Elvis.
Born on July 28, 1936, to Curtis and Jewel Powell in Tuckerman, AK. To hear Billy tell it, he had a magical Huck Finn-like childhood working on the farm caring for the soybean fields and driving the combines to harvest the beans and having adventures with his brothers and sister (Devon, Roy, and Eva Dale) along with his many cousins and beloved Uncle Odell Powell, only six years older than Billy. His Grandma Minnie was his favorite person and the only one who could keep everyone in line. He loved telling the story of how he and Minnie saw Elvis play at some honkytonk before Elvis was famous. After high school, he soon enlisted in the U.S. Army. He was stationed in Karlsruhe, Germany during the 2-year enlistment period. There, he serendipitously met the love of his life at the post office and a 62-year love story began. Ingrid, already living in NY, NY, for 2 years was on an extended visit with her father in Germany. She and Billy met at the post office where sparks flew. They began a whirlwind 6-week courtship, which ended with a proposal and engagement just before she left to go back to her home in NY; with plans to marry once Billy was discharged and back in the States. When he was discharged, Billy and Ingrid flew back to Elkhart, IN where his family had also relocated. Billy quickly found work as an Insurance Salesman so they could get married. Billy and Ingrid were married on October 14, 1960. They soon had a daughter, Karen, and 6 years later a son, Ryan.
Throughout their 62 years together, Billy and Ingrid were on the wildest rollercoaster ride imaginable, or maybe not imaginable. Billy went from being an Insurance Salesman to a Salesman at Skyline Corporation, often receiving Top Salesman Awards. He loved the challenge of moving up the ranks from Salesman to Sales Mgr. to General Manager and loved the learning that came with it. When Karen was quite young, she sat listening to him practice his sales presentations for his teams at Skyline. Those eventually became lectures and seminars about the RV Industry at various events around the country. During his time as General Manager, Billy recognized that he was running his own business and that’s when the Entrepreneurial bug bit him. He was always successful, always striving to do better, and never giving up…these traits were inherent in both Karen and Ryan. His first venture was Pal Vans. Next was Village Mobile Home Sales, which he and Ingrid operated as a team and where he pulled in his daughter to work in the office and his son to mow. Eventually, his future son-in-law, David Bumgardner, became a part of that family crew. Billy and Ingrid also own several income properties over the years which provided more stories and adventure than income at times. When Karen and Dave began dating, Billy had to be sure that Dave had what it takes to be a part of the Powell family. He sent Dave on ridiculously merciless tasks, sometimes with Ryan, that included tasks for Village Mobile Home Sales, collecting rents, or whatever other “jobs” Billy could come up with, Dave completed every one of them and happily joined the family. Billy also successfully owned and operated Rivera Vans where he and Karen had the fortunate opportunity to work together for several years. Upon the sale of Riviera Vans, Billy worked with Ryan and Ingrid to open Formal Affairs Bridal Boutique and Tux Shoppe. Billy shared his many years of business knowledge with Ryan to enable him to establish a successful business. Ryan and Ingrid ran the Tux Shopped together and when the opportunity arose to purchase the wedding venue at Turnock Hall, Ryan and Billy jumped at it. They spent many hours, and years together, bringing the building back to life and running a very successful sister business to Formal Affairs Bridal Boutique and Tux Shoppe. One of Billy’s favorite tasks to do before a wedding or reception was to polish the Cherrywood dance floor until it shined. He never quit until the job was done to perfection. A classic Billy way of doing a job. Running errands and helping take care of things at Formal Affairs along with running the wedding venue with Ryan wasn’t enough to keep Billy busy. So, at the age of 75, got his Real Estate License and went back to sales which was in his blood.
Billy wasn’t all about work though. For Billy, family was everything. He was at his best when he was surrounded by his family. Summer Sundays brought cookouts at Devon and Eula’s. Gary and Connie would be there with their friends. His other brother, Roy, would show up and the storytelling would begin. Often, when it was hot and muggy, Billy and Ingrid would bring all the fixings needed to make homemade ice cream, along with a hand-cranked bucket. Billy’s rules were everyone, big or small, had to take a turn cranking the ice cream or they wouldn’t get a bowl. The hand-cranked ice cream tradition carried on for decades, long enough for Justin and Lauren to learn the joy of Pops’ ice cream.
Seeing his kids and grandkids succeed meant everything to Billy. “That’s not possible” is a phrase that Billy never understood. Nothing was impossible as far as he was concerned, it was just a matter of never giving up. One season during Ryan’s little league years, there were a bunch of boys that none of the coaches wanted on their team, meaning they would be left out that summer and not get to play ball. Billy offered to coach those boys who were dubbed “The Bad News Bears” because of their lack of skills. He coached those boys whom no coach wanted on their team to that group of boys winning the league championship at the end of the summer. To this day, whenever anyone on that team saw him, they stopped and asked for a hug and told him what a difference that summer made in their life.
He instilled that same tenaciousness in Karen and Ryan. After many years in the corporate world, Karen owns a successful Business Productivity Coaching Company and Ryan continued to successfully build Formal Affairs and Turnock Hall after Billy was no longer able to participate due to his declining health.
Like their father, neither ever saw an obstacle they could not overcome. There was and is always a way. We will figure it out.
From their whirlwind romance to the rollercoaster of life, Billy and Ingrid were hanging on with both hands because it was a scary ride at times. Along with the good, the bad, and the ugly that goes along with owning several businesses, part of that wild and scary roller coaster ride included many health scares for Billy. Many of these were life-threatening, including several whom others with the same injuries or illnesses have not survived. Billy was somehow born with more than one life, much like a cat has 9 lives. We lost count a long time ago of how many he used and being that we never knew how many he had been gifted we just loved him as much as a person could every time he came out the other side…always with a story to tell.
On May 17, at 5 pm he finished the very last one of those lives. He held onto it as long as he could, he’s a fighter and doesn’t give up, though as we all know…all good things must come to an end.
You can rest now, Billy, we’ll take it from here. Your memories, which will always include your storytelling, will be a blessing.
Billy Ray Powell was cremated, and his Urn will be placed in the Niche Tower at Rice Cemetery with Military Honors.
Walley-Mills-Zimmerman has been entrusted with his care.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Billy R. Powell, please visit our floral store.