6/24/1928 – 3/1/2021
Harry Boone Powell was born June 24, 1928 in Lake Wales, Florida to Charles Grady Powell and Nora Elizabeth Wingfield. However, he always said he was born in Frostproof, an even smaller town 11 miles south, where his father owned a pharmacy, a men’s clothing store, and orange groves. Harry worked in all three through high school while lettering in three sports and graduating as class Valedictorian.
His mother gave him bridge lessons at the age of 9, while his father started him on golf at 11. Harry always credited his skill at golf and bridge to the early start he got from his parents. His other great parental gift was an abiding respect and love for family history in the Georgia and Florida panhandle, dating back to Daniel Boone.
He attended Vanderbilt University for two years in pre-med, but in 1948, Florida had no medical school, so Harry, never one to waste time, enrolled in pharmacy at University of Florida. He joked that his family produced doctors, pharmacists and preachers and preaching and medicine were out!
While at U. of Florida he formed a local chapter of Kappa Psi, the national pharmacy fraternity. He was elected to Florida Blue Key, and won the UF duplicate bridge Championship with a Chinese architecture professor, Danny, but couldn’t compete in Nationals because Danny wasn’t a student. Before his last year of pharmacy school, he met on a blind date and followed to California the woman who became his wife of 70 years, Joyce Humphrey. Married in 1950, they raised five children in the beach town of Carpinteria, where Joyce’s family had a long history.
Financed by the Humphreys in buying their first drugstore, Valley Rexall Drugs, and working 70-hour weeks, Harry still managed to play golf at Ojai Valley Inn, where an out-of-town membership cost six dollars a month. Ojai became the site of the third store, followed quickly by three more. In the 60s, Harry and the Powell family became the face of Rexall Association Clubs. An organization which represented 15,000 national and international independent retail druggists. Harry organized disaster relief and did PR, but his favorite project was an award-winning National Teen Forum. Rexall sponsored a national patriotic essay contest in each state, the winners of which received a trip to Washington DC for a week of sight-seeing, patriotic and business presentations. The outstanding boy and girl, chosen by Rev. Billy Graham, joined a Rexall People-to-People Pharmaceutical Tour, meeting political and business leaders from the Middle East and Russia, Poland and Czechoslovakia. Such a project would be inconceivable today, but the expectation in 1965-1966 was for unending prosperity, co-operation and world peace.
Harry served on the Carpinteria Elementary School Board and the Santa Barbara County Grand Jury, before he joined 15 Carpinteria business leaders and ranchers in the formation of Casitas National Bank. The banking business became his first priority as Casitas grew into County Bank with 10 branches and eventually sold to Barclays UK. Retirement was not in the cards with five children to educate or help finance in their own businesses. With Joyce’s help, he partnered with Jack and Rene Dendinger for 15 years at the Isla Vista Rexall, where junior Powells and Dendingers worked behind the cash register with the biggest candy counter in town. Buying candy during exams became known locally as “having a Rexall fit.” All the while Harry found the time to read widely, keep his handicap below 10, fire up his old charcoal barbecue, and take care of his avocado trees.
A chance meeting with a visiting Scottish couple, Nat and Moira Thomson, led to a lifelong friendship and the purchase of a Flat in St. Andrews with Southern California friends who enjoyed history, gardens, golf, tennis, birding, architecture, single malt Scotch and craft beers. When Harry served on the Board of Birnam Wood, the Powells brought acorns from the famous Birnam Wood Oak in Scotland and planted them around the golf course in Montecito.
Harry closed out his golfing and banking careers with spots on the Board of La Cumbre Country Club, Santa Barbara Bank and Trust, and partnering with buddy Don Anderson on golf outings, usually with a fair amount of success. He shot his age so many times in later years that he stopped recording it, but could still recount most shots, maintaining that smooth down-the-middle swing into his 90s.
He leaves his beloved wife Joyce; his sons Larry Powell and Andy Powell (Denise); his daughters Debby Bernal (Rich), Jennifer DeSandre and Carolyn Horwald (Gary); 13 grandchildren, Eric Bernal (Alison), Jessie Bernal, Tyler Powell (Kjersti), Garrett Powell, Nicole Powell, Katie Horwald McClenathen (Matt), Kara Horwald, Jenna Horwald, Grady Powell, Wes Powell, Haley Powell, Kendra DeSandre (Alfredo Soto-Mariscal), and Daniel DeSandre; and six great-grandchildren, Hannah, Linnea and Ben Bernal, and Ryan, Brooks and Parker Jane Powell. He also leaves sisters-in-law Carolyn Kincaid Henderson and Peggy Hudgens Humphrey; a cousin Eleanor Hamilton Jacobs; his brother Jim Powell (Georgia); sister Anne Wilson; and many beloved nieces and nephews. Although never a student of genealogy, his abiding pride in his family will be his legacy. A private burial will be held at the Carpinteria Memorial Cemetery. Remembrances may be directed to the Carpinteria Education Foundation, the Carpinteria Historical Society or the charity of your choice.