Dean Lee Powell
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Dean Lee Powell

AGE: 57 • Leland, NC

Dean Lee Powell, 57, passed away on Monday, Feb. 6, 2012 at UNC Medical Center Chapel Hill. He was born April 10, 1954, the son of the late Richard Francis Powell Jr. and Dolores Roselle Powell. Dean was also preceded in death by his brother, Richard Francis Powell III. Dean attended Juilliard School of Music. Throughout his professional career as a musician, copyist, composer, and arranger, he worked with many famous recording artists such as Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Gerry Mulligan, Stevie Wonder, and Bette Midler. He traveled the world over with these artists and even accompanied Bob Hope on one of his Christmas Tours. He was also an opening act for Bruce Springsteen. Dean was a master guitarist who taught countless students to play. He wrote and arranged hundreds of national commercial jingles and movie scores. He loved the water. He swam daily, owned different boats and even built several crafts over the years. His artistry extended to sketching, watercolor and oil painting. He was a devoted husband, brother, uncle, and friend. Dean was a member of Gloryland Baptist Church.

He is survived by his wife, Jo-Ann Craig; sister, Kimberley R. Powell Ladue and her husband, Lee of Raleigh, NC; sister-in-law, Claire Powell of Durham, NH; nieces, Brooke and Jillian Marshall, Sara Powell; and a nephew, Richard Powell.

Memorial services will be held 11:00 a.m. Saturday, March 3, 2012 at First Presbyterian Church in Metuchen, NJ. In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to SECU Family House, 123 Old Mason Farm Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27517.

"The song is ended but the melody lingers on"

The staff at Coble Ward-Smith Funeral Service is honored to serve the family of Dean Lee Powell.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in Home News Tribune on Feb. 9, 2012.
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Memories & Condolences
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21 entries
March 3, 2012

We loved to hang out with Dean and Jo-Ann. "Fun" was his middle name. Dick took him along one night to sing with his Barbershop quartet group in East Brunswick. He was a huge hit. Could read and sing the music right off the page. He was too young to leave us.

Ninfa and Dick Nurse
Ninfa and Dick Nurse
February 29, 2012
A wonderful man. So sorry to hear this terrible news. R.I.P., Dean.
Jeff Ganz
February 22, 2012
Our thoughts and prayers are with Kimberley, Lee, Jillian, Brooke and the Powell family.

Although, I never met Dean I knew of his battle through Kimberley and how she spoke of his courage and fight regularly. I know a loss is never easy, but comfort can be felt knowing he is in a better place and no longer has to fight the trials, medicines and daily fears of uncertainty.

I hope there is peace in celebrating his life and accomplishments. I'm sure he will be missed and remembered by many.
Matt & Samantha Hackett
February 20, 2012
My thoughts are with you, please let me know if I can do anything. Call if you want to just talk.
Linda Bailey
February 16, 2012
When people ask me where I'm from I quickly respond Metuchen ! My fondest of memories all revolve around there.

It was the great mix of neighbors and friends that have been somewhat of a recipe for happiness in my life.

I hope Deans memories of TRYING to teach me guitar was not to scarring for him : )

The lessons from next door where far more then musical, they were that of love and family, which it appeared that The Powell's had down pat.

Although years and miles separate all of us, its only a heart beat away when I close my eyes.

Kim and family my heart goes out to you,we all have lost a little piece of ourselves in Dean's passing, God Speed to him.

Rihard Worst
February 14, 2012
Dean was my first real boyfriend. Back in Metuchen, we did everything together, swap meets, camping, day trips to NYC, playing music and just hanging. A nicer guy there couldn't be and he set a standard for me that few could ever beat!
Seeing the photographs reminded me of of his great lust for life and the uniqueness of Dean.
He was one in a million and I was so lucky to of known him.
Jane "Mancbach" Fletcher, Santa Barbara, Ca.
February 14, 2012
Dean will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him, but he gave a little of himself to us all- even those of us who didn't have the time with him to know him well have been blessed by knowing him at all- and he will always be remembered with a smile.
Cheryl Farinholt
February 12, 2012
I am so sad to hear about Dean. He was such fun, and so talented. He must have been a saint to put up with my clarinet playing! The world has lost a truly good soul. Mary Campbell- Southport
February 12, 2012
Its summer ... around 1980 ... I have a check of my Mom's made out for $7 to "Dean Powell" (If Dean ever mentioned the price it was because I had missed a lesson with little/no notice ... then he would remind me it was the best $7 I could ever spend ... that there were guys out there that didn't know what they were teaching charging $10 for lessons! ... and if I missed another lesson he would have to charge me for it if I didn't leave a message at least the day before! ... he would tell me he wasn't going to keep taking my Mom's hard earned cash if I were going to ##!### ##!##! #!##!!! ... ... he would wrap it up with "kapeesh"? ... then "OK!" ... I didn't miss many lessons.

If I didn't practice all week, I would have a thread of dread running through the entire day before my lesson (maybe I should have practiced? 15 minutes a day would have done it! If you make yourself play it for 15, sometimes an hour will go by without you even knowing it!)... any happy moment of the day would quickly be squashed knowing I was going to Bounty Street unprepared! Of course all that dread was worse than the moment I feared (which was a blunt honest critique followed by "WHAT ARE YOU DOING? ARE YOU DOING THIS OR NOT? Because if you are doing this ... !##!%! ... ... "). As a lazy 14 year old I didn't like honest critiques (still don't) but even in the worse case (when I did nothing he asked of me, had all this great stuff around me, and I looked right at him as if he were from outerspace) Dean always found a positive comment and outlined a path to redemption before he sent me on my way ... and no matter what issue (lesson or personal) or how "angry" he was (his fake anger was legendary among his students) ... Dean ALWAYS left me knowing he was on my side. It took me a long time to realize the dread wasn't for the "critique" I anticipated ... the dread was knowing I wasted his time ... that I let him down ... sure he took the 7 bucks, but once you were one of Dean's students it had little to do with 7 bucks ... my dread was in his disappointment ... not in weathering his justified venomous soliloquies! ... "venomous" with a point, a path, some humor and love!

I remember walking up the steps of the Bounty Street House and opening the metal storm door going right in making sure not to scuff the wall with my case! ... I would sit on the bench directly outside Dean's studio or on the couch out of his view in the middle of the living room and wait my turn while listening to the lesson in progress ... on occasion I would run into Rich or Kim ... often I would see Dolores ... everybody going places and doing things ... the GREAT Perky was always there to greet me, ready for some head scratching. There would be other students from all walks ... but mostly other boys around my age (45 now, started with Dean at 13) ... I remember seeing older students (folks in their 40s ... 50s even!) and thinking there's no way Dean talks to that old dude like he does me? ... I believe Dean tailored his lessons and critiques accordingly! He kept me motivated for a few years, then I hung around another year, then he finally told me to go to some other guy ... gave me a number ... I never called ... I went back to Dean again a year or so later ... but I wasn't doing what I should and he wasn't going to let me pretend ... he gave me the boot! ... the last lesson I took I think he charged me 12 bucks ... the best 12 bucks I could ever spend!

When I think of the place on Bounty Street it is Summer and it is lively ... the windows are open in the studio Dean sits by the piano with his Gibson hollow body guitar ... sometimes a drink, a cigarette ... sometimes nobody was before me and he was sitting there playing it softly singing, his head rocking slightly looking up at me while I was getting my bass out plugged in tuned up ... sometimes I was treated to a real clown like performance of fantastic facial expressions with beautiful guitar playing ... the more impressive the lick the sillier the face he would make at me ... he'd stop abruptly and say "How you doing man!" or What's shakin ... you ready?! ... maybe he'd tell me about what he was playing ... or sometimes the Gibson would be in its stand and he would use it as a backstop laying another guitar right on top of it ... and he would always lay that Gibson or whatever guitar he was playing face down on his lap as a desk to write in my lesson books.

While I waited my turn (If I were prepared, I would go over my lesson) ... but if I knew there was no hope I wouldn't even bother trying to cram ... I would fool with my bass and listen to what he was saying to the student before me ... ... I'd hope that kid had practiced! ... because if Dean just suffered through a lesson so atrocious he was still yelling at the kid as I were going in ... he would stop yelling at them long enough to look at me ; start laughing, quietly saying to me something like "OH BOY YOU BETTER KNOW YOUR LESSON!" and go right back to yelling at the other student ... the "yelling" always ended with an "OK, see you next week." maybe Dean would add "PRACTICE! as the humbled student walked out the door. In that scenario there would be no delaying the inevitable gut spilling that I hadn't practiced my lesson. This was better in a way because then I was part of the group of "YOU ____ING GUYS!" ... Instead of the lone fool that squirmed for 29 minutes hoping he'd forgotten about what he wrote in that lesson book of mine the previous week ... so if it was one of the days I came clean right away, we got right down to business and there would be less conversation. Dean would take me only so far through a lesson to make sure I understood what he wanted ... he'd say things like "You know I can't do the work for you?" Dean never really spoke to me about his education, he didn't want me to do what he said because he was educated and knew best, he wanted me to put the hard work into playing because that's what he did, and that's what it would take for me to be any good. Not many folks would call Dean humble ... but when he told me how much effort he put into his playing it was in a very humble way.

I thought if I were "lucky" , if the student before me did well and if Dean were excited about something ... maybe I could get him talking through my entire 30 minute lesson! ... about the Beatles ... or "this Cat" or "those Cats" ... New York! and what he saw or did that week! (always exciting!) ... about the virtues of cheap Japanese guitars ... about music in anyway that he thought sparked my interest and kept me wanting to play ... but Dean did believe in the hard work end of it and he always got around to business,so by minute 29 he would say something like "You got your book? Where are we at man?" ... I am sure with my first footfall into his home he knew if I were prepared or not and I wasn't fooling him one bit with my attempts to keep all the side talk going ... Dean didn't miss much ... the "side talk" was great ... that and letting me squirm were part of the lesson!

I am grateful that I was able to talk to Dean for about an hour a few months ago ... we took a long walk down memory lane ... talked about many of Metuchen's great characters ... the analog world and the generation of WWII folks that ran the show when we were kids ... we talked about how we didn't always appreciate them but how we missed them now! ... my Mom's reaction when she learned my sister Michelle was dating him! HA!! (I was there! I saw her face! "Oh Michelle!") ... and we spoke about many of his other students in particulars as well as in the sense of the entire body. It was the first time we spoke in a long while and he had been ill so I made sure I told him how grateful I was.

If you were one of the dozens of students that lived a little part of my story ... and wished you had the chance to thank Dean for those lessons; those critiques, that proud smile he had for you when you did well (I'll never forget the time we played one of the first songs I learned, "Nowhere Man" together! I remember asking him about some of the notes that sounded a little strange when playing it on my own ... but with him playing the guitar they sounded amazing ... in those moments his expression was like a wine taster getting some good stuff! ... "Maybe there's some hope for you Du Bois.")... and there was that other smile he had for you when you honestly TRIED and failed ... (OK, Look, lets try it again next week ... I didn't learn all this stuff over night you know, you gotta loosen that grip man! : ) ) ... and the grimace with profanity laced tirade you would get if you weren't giving "it" (music/him/lesson) a tenth of the time it deserved. I did thank Dean for it all and reminded him of how many of our lives he touched with his talents ... from guys like me that never took it past playing in some bars ... to a lot of folks that pull a guitar out "around the campfire" ... to too many talented "kids" to name that have become successful professional musicians and teachers!

Dean let me make my thank you comment and he kept right on with the conservation without giving it more than something like "it was my pleasure" ... he knew what I said ... and he understood that I was trying to say it for all of us ... I got the sense that he knew how much he meant to his students and that I didn't have to tell him a thing, for me, let alone any of you ... and that had nothing to do with ego (which Dean had!) and everything to do with SOUL, a love for teaching, a love for music and being a river to the WILLING student! My friend Zack said something like this when I told him I received news of Dean's death, "Dean always made sure we remembered to play the notes with some feeling ..."

That house on Bounty Street was loaded with soul ... Dean knew what he had given us and we didn't have to thank him, a great measure of "it" had been given to him.
Pat Du Bois
February 10, 2012
I met Dean while swimming at our pool in Brunswick Forest 2yrs ago. I was immediately attracted to his charismatic personality and our similarities made for easy conversation. We both were from NJ, we both were artists and of course we both loved to swim.
I instantly felt bad for him because of his condition yet he seemed to have accepted it which touched me and earned my respect.
After reading his 'Obit' I realize how modest he was about his career however, after viewing his slide show I can see he was a real character who loved life.

To All his Family & Friends, "I'm sorry for your loss and although it seems unfair that things unraveled as they did it was exactly the way it was planned,
"God Works In Strange Ways, obviously He needed a good musician"
... Jim Kinstrey
February 10, 2012
"Be yourself, no matter what they say" has by now become old school advice for the young. Easy to urge, hard to live. Dean wrote the book. When he was 12. Great spirit.
Jim Tull
February 10, 2012
To Dean's family and friends: We are so sorry to hear about Dean's passing. Dean was a delightful and talented person. He gave of himself, his talents and his time to help others and put a smile on your face. He will truly be missed but not forgotten. God bless and comfort the family during this time.
Greg and Rhonda Norris
February 9, 2012
You were always a special person~ from when we were kids... throughout adolescence (the Iron Lung days)... We skipped a few years in between and then caught up again as were never 2 busy to talk, always a friend with a were missed when you went to NC, and you are missed now~ I pray for Jo Ann and Kim and all of your family.... that they find peace in your everlasting memories...which I am sure are vibrant and endearing!
judi rodgers
February 9, 2012
I will surely miss my nephew Dean.
He was truly a joy to be around from the time we spent together in
New Jersey until he visited us last in California.
We had many laughable moments together while he was growing up.
He will be in my heart forever.
Aunt Bonnie, Rodger, & Wayne
February 9, 2012
Dean was a wonderful guy and will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time. Much love~
Mike and Bonnie McGlauflin
February 9, 2012
Your inspiration as a musican and songwriter will be with me forever. I'm so grateful for everything you taught me. My sincerest condolences to the family.
Gina Gibbins
February 9, 2012
My condolences to Dean's family. I am so very sorry for your loss. May the thoughts and prayers of so many who care help to comfort you in this time of sorrow.
Gail Lane
February 8, 2012
You were the best uncle anyone could ever ask for. You were always original, and you always believed in yourself and in others. You had a special light about you that touched everyone you knew... I'll miss you so much... My love always, Jill.
Jillian Marshall
February 8, 2012
My thoughts are with Dean's family, and extended family, as well as Kim and her family. He was a class act and I will miss him.
Christine Worst Hurford
February 8, 2012
Dean, you always were such great person, who always loved to make people smile and laugh. You've shared your musical talents and we are all blessed to have known you. Your music is now being heard in heaven. Until we meet again.
Vicky and Paul Carey (Leland, NC).
February 8, 2012
Dean, you are one of a kind and will be greatly missed but you'll forever be in our hearts! Nan
Nancy Scott
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