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Powell loses battle with cancer
By Mike McCormick and Carol Cole

photo: NewsLocal
  Terry Powell  

The following is a copy of a story in the April 6th, 2004 issue of the Shawnee News-Star in regard to former City Manger Terry Powell.

Terry Powell, who retired in February as Shawnee city manager, lost his hard-fought battle with lung cancer here Sunday afternoon. He died at home surrounded by family.

The 60-year-old Powell was first diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer in December 2002.

The city manager was known for his dry wit and workaholic ways. He served as the 2003 chairman of the Greater Shawnee Area Chamber of Commerce. He was honored with the Gordon Richards Service Award during this year's chamber banquet.

He spent 15 years as Guymon's city manager before returning to Shawnee to take the post here in June 1991. He left Shawnee in 1976 to take the Guymon post.

Powell initially came to Shawnee in September 1971 after working as rehabilitation director for the Tulsa Urban Renewal Authority. He was employed by the Shawnee Urban Renewal Authority as deputy director and was promoted to executive director of the department after four months.

In October 1974, he was named assistant city manager for community development.

Powell had retired in February, citing his health.

"It's because of the whole health matter," Powell said, as he discussed his decision to step down. "It's becoming harder to stay effective. Because of so much weakness because of the chemotherapy treatments, it's fair to the city to go ahead and take early retirement," he said at that time.

He underwent several treatments at M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston and had continued to take chemo treatments at a facility in Midwest City.

The longtime city manager said in February it was a couple of months prior to that he recognized it was becoming more and more difficult for him to perform the day-to-day operations.

He had pointed to the approval by city voters of making the third penny sales tax permanent in 1999 as the No. 1 accomplishment during his tenure as city manager.

Powell also cited other accomplishments of his administration, pointed to the capital improvements that had totaled between $25 and $30 million. He said he had enjoyed working with the various commissioners, department heads and the community.

His retirement concluded a career in municipal government that spanned about 35 years.

He was a 1966 graduate of Oklahoma State University, with a bachelor's degree in housing and interior design, with emphasis on urban development.

Powell piloted a CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter in Vietnam during the late 1960s on more than 200 sorties, performing duty as a first lieutenant with the Marine Medium Helicopter 161st Squadron.

He was critically wounded in March 1969. His life-threatening injuries came when his chopper came under fire and sustained major damage at the hands of Viet Cong machine gunners.

The cockpit was struck by five .50-caliber rounds of antiaircraft fire, but despite his wounds, he was able to limp the craft about five miles to a friendly zone. He returned to service later as a flight instructor.

Powell was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart and 31 air medals.

He ran several Boston Marathons, with his best time just over three hours for the 26.2 mile race.

He could be seen on long-distance treks on his beloved bicycle and attended the Tour de France several times, riding through the French countryside on a tandem bike with his wife, Nancy.

Powell is survived by his wife, Nancy. Their son, Bryan, and his wife, Mary Ann, live in Edmond with their two children. Daughter Debbie and her husband, Campbell, and one grandchild live in Houston.