Van Gundy Family Tree


Notes for Nelson Earl POWELL


Earl was a tall, handsome gentleman who looked very much like his mother, complete with the dark hair and complexion. In his younger days his hair was quite wavy, possibly a trait from the Powell side, although his father did not have that much hair, compared to others in his family. Earl's good looks were often compared to the old movie star, Randolph Scott.

He was a member of the Methodist Church of Arthur.

Residences & events in his life:

Being just 14 when his mother died and his father being absent much of the time, he soon quit school and starting working at various jobs. His older sisters did their best to keep track of him and their father but were not always successful in either case.

NE. While still a young lad, he went west to work as a migrant farmer on the grain farms of the great plains. His tenure there is unknown.

Arthur, Douglas Co, IL, where Earl eventually landed as a farmer on his own property.

Bef 1928 Earl and his family took in his ailing father, along with sister, Ella. They were living in a 2 bedroom house at the time but managed to squeeze together enough to accommodate.

1930 Lowe Twp, Moultrie Co, IL. At census time Earl was 33, Alta was 34 year old. They had children: Merle, 11; Catherine, 9; and Duane, 3. Living with them was Earl's widowed sister, Ella G Michaels, 35.

Lovington, Moultrie Co, IL, was their address in several of the Powell reunion rosters.

Decatur, IL. Following retirement from the farm, Earl and Alta moved to the city for the last 17 years of his life. During part of that time he worked as a mechanic in a gas station there.

Quoting again from Dorisgene Van Gundy Webb:

"Uncle Earl was a giant of a man, it was so easy to look up to him! He was so kind and gentle. One Christmas I got a bundle of switches (I was told I had asked for them) but I can't remember much else that I got that year. Uncle Earl felt so sorry for me that he went out the next day and bought my one and only doll! And Aunt Alta knew I loved spiced peaches so she made sure they were always on the table when we went there to eat."

A grandchild has some very special memories:

" You never forget your first 'Best Friend.' Especially when he happens to be your grandpa. Mine was my Grandpa Powell.
The earliest story of my Grandpa's involvement in my life is the story my father told me many times over the years. It was my Grandpa and Grandma's visit to see me for the first time in Jarman Hospital, Tuscola. I was brand new, but it was a difficult delivery and Mom and I showed the battle wounds. My right arm was in a little sling, my forehead was cut from the instruments, and my eyes were swollen and back and blue.
As they looked through the nursery glass at me, my Grandma made the mistake of saying, 'Our first grandchild is sure one ugly mess!' Without one second of hesitation Grandpa jumped to my defense by telling her in no uncertain terms, 'That has to be the prettiest baby I've ever seen, and if you are going to talk like that, you can go
wait in the car.'
That was my Grandpa! Always aware of the need to see the beauty in all God's people. Especially the little kids.
When I reflect on my first 'Best Friend' my eyes cloud with tears of joy as I think about the man who looked like Randolph Scott (the movie star) - who taught me how to milk a cow, catch a fish, shoot pool, ride a horse, and drive a car.
When, at 16, I thought my '49 Chevy needed lowering blocks to make the back end sit low, my dad wasn't too keen on the idea. So, I drove to Decatur to talk to Grandpa about this life or death situation. After a short discussion Grandpa and I thought we should
put on a set of blocks just to have a look. After we installed those 6" blocks, we almost couldn't get the Chevy off the lift at the gas station where Grandpa worked.
When Dad came home from work I watched him stop for a moment and look at my car before he came into the house. 'What happened to your car?' he asked. Very quickly, I responded, 'Grandpa and I are trying out a new look that we like.' No more was said about it, because my best friend was also my Dad's (best friend).
I watched my Dad display the same qualities of love and friendship to my kids and now that this grandpa thing has infiltrated my life, my greatest hope is that someday my grandkids will look on me with the same love and friendship as I do my Grandpa.

Leroy Earl Powell"

Earl died of a massive heart attack.

His funeral was held at 2 PM on Tuesday in the McMullin Funeral Home of Sullivan with Rev Kenneth Plummer, of the Arthur Methodist Church, officiating.
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