Ocean Beach 07

Mark Wilkerson Powell

November 11, 1952 ~ October 5, 2020 (age 67)


A private memorial service for Mr. Powell will be held at a later date.


Among the earliest memories of my life was a time dad took us to Wrightsville Beach.  I was maybe 6 years old, so dad would have been about 36, a little younger than I am now.

It was a beautiful day.  There were steep shallows; waves to young me were daunting but fascinating.  Of course I wanted to go out into the sea, and this resulted in being bowled over, sputtering salt water… lots of fuss.  Dad lifted me on his shoulders to walk us out into the waves; I was afraid at first, but I specifically remember the feeling of how strong he was.  I realized how immune he made me to the crashing tide that toppled me before.  He would dip to let the waves tower over us and then hold me up over each one, even if his head went below the surface.  My fear was dissolved.

Twenty six years later, at my cousin Annie’s wedding, we rented a little condo on the beach at Isle of Palms.
That evening, following the reception, dad spontaneously wanted to take a walk by himself, while several members of the family stayed up talking amongst themselves.  This brought on discussion of how odd the behavior was, when dad walked out into the water up to his knees, late at night.  But my dad was rarely inhibited by appearances, by what 'seemed' to be.

I walked out and joined my dad, in black water which didn’t seem to have a horizon against a black sky.
We didn’t speak.
He had been through emotional hell the year before, and he wasn’t ok and I knew that.
Dad and I stood together, being pulled gently toward an open sea; we were somber and silent, but not sad.  I felt sure; here was a moment which could not be easily described to any other person.  Although wordless, it was one of the most important bonding experiences we ever had, even counting trips we took that lasted weeks, or countless hours of heart to heart talks.

Dad was an engineer, an outdoorsman, a man of thrift, a believer in equality for all races and genders and positions of faith; he was a man of reconciliation and forgiveness and decency.  He made his bed every morning, he worked hard each day.
He was passionate about music and was a great source of encouragement for moderation, and steadiness.
When life changed for him in 2013, he was brave, and he started a new life of adventure that he controlled.

But dad went about no task with more reverence than fatherhood.
His greatest accomplishments remained invisible to me for the majority of my life.  His patience, his kindness... a reservoir of love to which I never found an end.

My father will return to the sea, and one day I will join him.
But before then it will be the honor of my life to strive to become like him for my own sons.

Rest In Peace dad.  I love you,

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