Robert “Rocky” Powers spent his golden years helping to provide homes for those in need.

Rocky Powers

Powers

“Greenwood was a better place for all his many contributions,” said his daughter, Debby Powers. “Any kind of community service he could provide, he was all for it.”

Mr. Powers died Tuesday at Greenwood Leflore Hospital. He was 89.

Mr. Powers grew up in Vicksburg and earned a degree in personnel management from the University of Mississippi.

He and his wife, Elizabeth “Pann” Powers, were married for 64 years and lived in Greenwood from 1956 until her death in 2015.

Mr. Powers had worked at various finance businesses as well as at Staplcotn and Zurn Industries, where he had taken up a construction position in 1976. When he retired in 1995, he decided to put his efforts into building houses in the Delta.

“I’ve been blessed with so many things — a good family, a career,” Powers said in a 2005 profile in the Commonwealth. “You got to give those things back. I saw the housing problems in the Delta, and I don’t think there’s enough money in the world to alleviate that.”

Mr. Powers and his wife, who also spent her retirement years championing numerous charitable causes in the Greenwood area, were instrumental in launching the Greenwood chapter of Habitat for Humanity through First Presbyterian Church in the 1980s, said Marshall Sutphen, who had worked with them.

Habitat for Humanity later became the Fuller Center for Housing. From 1996 until 2017, Mr. Powers served as the construction coordinator for Habitat for Humanity and then the Fuller Center for Housing.

Through that volunteer role, Mr. Powers wore many hats, his daughter said.

“From the ground up, from pouring the concrete, from cutting the ribbon of whoever’s house, he was involved,” Debby Powers said, estimating  her father helped build at least 23 houses during his time as a construction coordinator.

“He was always dedicated to getting the work done,” said Sutphen, who serves on the board for the Fuller Center. “He was dedicated to it. I was always impressed how much time he spent on it.”

Emily Roush-Elliott, an architect with Delta Design Build Workshop, said Mr. Powers was one of the first people she met when she moved to Greenwood in December 2012 to complete a three-year fellowship reinvestment project in Baptist Town.

Mr. Powers introduced Roush-Elliott to numerous people throughout town and also showed her houses that he helped build, she recalled.

One Baptist Town project Roush-Elliott coordinated was the installation of “Katrina cottages” — the type of homes constructed to provide housing on the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina. The city of Greenwood acquired some of those homes to house low-income residents, donating them to the Fuller Center.

Roush-Elliott said Mr. Powers was knowledgeable and generous with his time, assisting by bringing people lunch as well as supplies such as painter’s tape or screws.

“He jumped in whenever he could,” she said.

“I think Rocky was a great gift to every person he interacted with.”

Steve Fortenberry, an associate pastor at First Presbyterian Church, had known Mr. Powers through the church as well as the Fuller Center, of which Fortenberry is board president.

“Character-wise, Rocky was a delightful man. He was a combination of strong and gentle. Someone who was very easy to be around and very unpretentious,” Fortenberry said. “He was a very fine, humble man. He was a very dependable person.”

People who knew the Powerses often described them in tandem.

“They were an amazing couple,” Roush-Elliott said. “They didn’t butt heads. They were both really leaders, and they were able to do that together.”

“They were both very civic-minded and community-oriented,” Debby Powers said of her parents. “They loved to dance. They never missed a Young at Heart event at the Greenwood Country Club.”

Pann Powers was also involved with the Fuller Center, as well as the United Way of Leflore County.

Debby Powers said she stopped by Greenwood regularly from Jackson to check in on her father after her mother’s death. Last year she moved in with her father.

He “is going to be terribly missed by his family and his community,” she said.

The daughter added, however, that her parents are “dancing in heaven. I can tell you that.”

Mr. Powers is survived by an additional daughter as well as two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

• Contact Gerard Edic at 581-7239 or gedic@gwcommonwealth.com.

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