SAN ANGELO, Texas — Colleagues, friends and family gathered today to remember retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Charles E. Powell, who died last week at the age of 89. Col. Powell was Commander of the 17th Training Wing at Goodfellow Air Force Base for four years until he retired in 1984. He and his wife, JoAnne, stayed in San Angelo and made it their home.
Retired Air Force Colonel Charles E. Powell passed away on July 2, 2020 at the age of 89. He served 30 years in the U.S. Air Force and was Commander of the 17th Training Wing at Goodfellow Air Force Base from 1980 until he retired in 1984.
“Goodfellow is here because Charlie Powell was here. When he came to Goodfellow in 1980 the base was on the closure list. Four years later when he retired, Goodfellow was not only not on the closure list, it was named a technical training center. Goodfellow went from a sleepy, single-mission, WWII-looking base to this vibrant, growing, multi-mision, ultra-modern facility that you see today. That was because of Charlie Powell. His influence is incredible,” said Dr. John Garrett, who retired as the base’s historian last year.
Col. Powell’s legacy goes beyond Goodfellow. He stayed in San Angelo after retiring and went to work in banking and investments. He served on a number of boards including the United Way of the Concho Valley, the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce and the Boy Scouts of Southwest Texas.
Over the years, Col. Powell was recognized for his work in the community. He was named “Citizen of the Year” by the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce in 1982, received the “Distinguished Citizen of the Year” award from the Boy Scouts of Southwest Texas in 2015, was inducted as an “Honorary CMSgt” by Goodfellow Air Force Base in 2016, and was honored as “Veteran of the Year” at Angelo State University in 2019. Through it all he always had his wife, JoAnne, by his side.
“Him and JoAnne were a team. Where you saw Charlie you saw JoAnne, where JoAnne was at Charlie was there. They attended all the events,” said Mike Boyd, a friend of Col. Powell.
“Every committee he was there, every Air Force Ball he was there. At the ball there’s a tradition of cutting the Air Force birthday cake. Holding the sword is always the oldest airman and the youngest. For years, it was always Charlie as the older representative cutting the cake. Next time we can hold an Air Force ball, we’ll have to do something special in honor of Charlie,” added Dr. Garrett.
According to Boyd, Col. Powell was a friend to all and will be greatly missed.
“When Charlie retired from being the Wing Commander at Goodfellow, he came to work for Southwest Bank as an investment banker. He set up our investment group for us. Charlie and I have been life-long friends since day one. Everybody knows Charlie was a great friend. He was a super mentor to me. He kept mentoring me up until a few weeks ago,” continued Boyd, “Charlie always gave me a thumbs-up. He’s always smiling. I’ve never seen him have a bad day. Even when his health was declining, Charlie was a super proactive person, pushing, pushing, pushing. We’re really gonna miss him.”
Col. Powell was laid to rest on Wednesday, surrounded by family and friends. Though he is gone, his legacy will live on in San Angelo.
“Charlie, you made a lasting impression on me, my family and everybody in the community. You’re deeply missed. We love you and we’re so appreciative of what all you and JoAnne have done for San Angelo,” said Boyd.
You can read Col. Powell’s obituary here. Special thanks to Goodfellow Air Force Base for pictures of Col. Powell over the years.