William “Bill” Chester Powell (April 26, 1947 – May 25, 2017)

My cousin Bill died yesterday following a battle with his own body for almost eight years. He was 70 years old.

I spoke with his mother Eloise this morning about my admiration for the courage Bill had displayed throughout his confinement as well as his wife Donna’s steadfast support while she helped her husband through the difficult activities of daily living. Eloise said simply, Bill was a trooper.

Yes. Not all troopers are in the armed services.

This weekend is Memorial Day, and I am immeasurably grateful for every soldier who serves today to protect our country from harm. I appreciate their families, their personal sacrifices, and the bravery required to face our enemies at home and abroad. These enemies multiply even as we alienate our friends and struggle to identify ever-changing battlefields. In the midst of a chaotic world our military personnel are asked to protect and defend us with their own lives if necessary. Thankful seems like such a small word for what our soldiers do, but thankful is how I feel.

My cousin Bill had a very real foe in his war with his health, but he won’t get a medal or ribbon for his valor. Instead, in the end he was surrounded by the love of his family and the hope that he will be remembered as a good man who refused to surrender during a very long haul. A worthy legacy.

my cousin Boybaby swinging

with his sister Frances pushing him,

me climbing the ladder, and Bill trying to ignore us 

playing on a swing set at my home in Richards, Texas

circa 1952

only children Bill and me at a family reunion

Bill’s maternal grandfather was my paternal grandmother’s brother, and his maternal grandmother was my paternal grandfather’s sister – sometimes our reunions were confusing, but our families were close and loved each other.

I will miss Bill. Rest in peace, cousin.

About Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is a personal historian, essayist with humorist tendencies, lesbian activist, truth seeker and speaker in the tradition of other female Texas storytellers including her paternal grandmother. In December, 2017, the University of South Carolina Press published her collection of first-person accounts of a few of the people primarily responsible for the development of LGBTQ organizations in South Carolina. Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home will resonate with everyone interested in LGBTQ history in the South during the tumultuous times from the AIDS pandemic to marriage equality. She has published five nonfiction books including two memoirs, an essay compilation and two collections of her favorite blogs from I'll Call It Like I See It. Her first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing received a Golden Crown Literary Society Award in 2008. Her writings have been included in various anthologies - most recently the 2017 Saints and Sinners Literary Magazine. Her latest book, Four Ticket Ride, was released in January, 2019. She is a displaced Texan living in South Carolina with her wife Teresa Williams and their dogs Spike, Charly and Carl. She is also Naynay to her two granddaughters Ella and Molly James who light up her life for real. Born in rural Grimes County, Texas in 1946 her Texas roots still run wide and deep.
This entry was posted in Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, politics, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to William “Bill” Chester Powell (April 26, 1947 – May 25, 2017)

  1. Wayside Artist says:

    It’s always hard to hit like on a sad post, but I know analytics require it.

    I’m so sorry you face another loss, Sheila. From the photos, you and Bill seem like brother and sister. He is no longer suffering. You have your memories, but still a yawning void separates you from much loved and always missed family. Time only dulls the ache.

    Sending more love!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ann, I know you are sending love, and I really am grateful. Bill and I were very close as children, but as we grew older and I left Texas, our contact was much more sporadic. He got sick when we moved to Worsham Street, though, so I got to visit him again…this time in hospital rooms. We re-connected, and it was so good.His mother (who is 93) and I are both genealogy nuts and I love to hear her family stories. I fear for her now, too. Yawning voids and chasms…the best way to describe the losses that pile up.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Wayside Artist says:

        All you can do is enjoy every visit and phone call with her. Are you writing down her stories? I’ve written many of Mom’s and my remaing maternal Aunt’s (94), but I wish I recorded some of them. She agreed to it, but I never got around to it. Time flies!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Honestly, Ann, the best way is to record them, and I have not. Shame on me. I was so wrapped up in recording, transcribing, writing the stories of the 21 lgbt community organizers in SC for two years I put my recorder away. Burnout. But I need to retrieve it.
        I am so glad you’ve written so many of your mom and aunt’s stories! I am thinking memoir here…


  2. I wish I would’ve read this prior to dinner yesterday…I would’ve given you an extra hug. Thank you so much for once sharing you family with us and I am sorry for your loss.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Johnny says:

    Sending you all my love. ❤ I'm sorry for your loss.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You were lucky to have him in your life, and he you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Luanne @ TFK says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss and the loss to your family. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh, Sheila, we are so sorry for the loss of your cousin and send Soft Pawkisses to comfort you ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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