His Glass Was Full
Shawn E. Powell was the firefighter with the light touch. Whether working at Engine Company 207 in downtown Brooklyn, at home in Crown Heights, or camping with his 5- year-old son, Joshua, he had a way of lifting spirits. "If there wasn't any fun going on, he would find a way," said Matthew Dwyer, a fellow firefighter. "With Shawn, the glass was half full, never half empty."
Firefighter Powell, 32, brought unusual skills to the Fire Department. An artist and woodcarver, he had built props and volunteered at several New York City theaters, including the Apollo Theater, and studied architecture at New York Technical College.
At Engine Company 207 — where the slogan is "The House of Misfit Toys" because of the company's specialized, somewhat bizarre-looking fire-fighting equipment — Mr. Powell made the point in comic relief with a poster that includes a square- wheeled fire engine.
Firefighter Powell and his wife, Jean, who had been teenage sweethearts in Brooklyn, married in 1989 and moved immediately to Germany, where he served four years in the Army.
This year, Firefighter Powell's passion had been camping with Joshua.
On several trips to lakes and state parks in New Jersey, he was teaching the boy to make a campfire and put up a tent and had planned another father-son outing soon after Sept. 11.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 24, 2001.