Louis “Pee Wee” Powers was many things to many people.
He was Virginia B.A.S.S. Chapter Federation president.
He was once voted B.A.S.S. Chapter Federation Man of the Year.
He was a member of the tournament crew at Bassmaster events all of the country.
But most of all, he was my friend.
If you’re a competitive bass angler, he was your friend too.
We all lost someone great when Pee Wee passed away on July 11, 2019. He was one of the kindest, gentlest, most loving, caring, giving and hardest-working men I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.
He got those traits from his mom and dad, who raised him on a tobacco farm in the 1940s outside Richmond, Va.
He grew up on that farm and met wife Frances there. They were married when he was 19 and she was 17 and remained together for 59 years until she passed away last October.
Pee Wee loved fishing and joined a fishing club way back in the 1970s. He worked or fished his way into becoming the president of the Virginia Chapter of the B.A.S.S. Chapter, which is now called the B.A.S.S. Nation.
He did such a great job serving as the volunteer coordinator at three consecutive Bassmaster Classics on the James River (1988-90) that he was named the B.A.S.S. Chapter Federation Man of the Year. That is a huge honor that not many people have earned.
Because of the great job he did at those Classics, Dewey Kendrick hired him as part of the B.A.S.S. tournament crew. He worked for B.A.S.S. until 2011 when health issues forced him to finally slow down.
I met Pee Wee after I joined a club in Kansas, and we followed much of the same path. I moved up through the club, holding state office and becoming president of the Kansas B.A.S.S. Chapter Federation. Then in 2004, I accepted a job at B.A.S.S. and because we both were former presidents and basically took much of the same fishing path to B.A.S.S. we really hit it off.
He worked almost every B.A.S.S. Nation event with me and we became very close. He was my mentor. He could teach you without you even realizing you were learning. He could chew you out without you even realizing you were being chewed out. He would just listen if that’s what was needed and advise later. Those traits were gifts as well.
He was always thinking of others and what he could do to help. I heard someone say, when Pee Wee met a person for the very first time, he was already asking himself, “What can I do to help this person?”
That was Pee Wee.
He started working for Reynolds (the aluminum foil folks) in 1958 when he was 19 years old, and retired from Reynolds in 1997. At Reynolds, he worked his way up to managing a bunch of people and from what I am told was a great boss.
The kind of boss who maybe doesn’t exist today.
He would keep $2,000 cash in his top desk drawer at work. He told all his employees, “If you need rent, grocery, emergency travel money, take it. Pay me back when you can.” The drawer and his office door were never locked. Most days there would be $2,000 in there, but some days there would be $100 and a stack of IOUs. The day he retired, there was $2,000 in that drawer.
Pee Wee treated me like a son — and selfishly, I thought I was the only one who felt that way.
But then I got to the funeral service and heard Preacher Ron Talley ask, “How many people in this room feel like Pee Wee treated you like a son or daughter?” The entire room raised their hands. He then asked, “How many people in the room had ever heard the words ‘I Love You,’ from Pee Wee?” Again, the entire room raised their hands.
I quickly realized I was not his only “adopted son.” The funeral service was both very hard but a joyous celebration. I cried until no more tears would come out. But I also heard and told so many funny “Pee Wee” stories and laughed so hard my cheeks and sides hurt.
Pee Wee was extremely loyal to his family, his church, his friends and to B.A.S.S. That was clear. At the funeral I saw more yellow and blue B.A.S.S. hats in one place than I had ever seen, outside of a tournament. One of Pee Wee’s final requests was that his pallbearers wear the B.A.S.S. 40th anniversary hats at the cemetery, which they did.
I could go on for days telling stories, and if you knew Pee Wee, I am sure you have a favorite “Pee Wee” story of your own.
I want to personally say thank you to the entire Powers family for sharing their dad, papa, uncle with the world. And especially with me. If I can be half the man, have half the kindness, gentleness, caring, giving spirit and loyalty to his family, friends and B.A.S.S. that Pee Wee had, and have a positive impact on a fraction of the people he did, that would be quite an accomplishment.
See you on the other side, Pee Wee. Love ya!