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Reverend Luther Powell - 14 Children - Services in a Tent

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Rev. Luther Powell – 14 Children

The article below appeared in the Missoulian-Sentinel on October 28, 1961.

Rev. Powell Dies After Narrow Escape in River

The Rev. Luther M. Powell, 70, who began his ministerial career in Missoula years ago by conducting his first services in a tent, was stricken with a heart attack and died minutes after being rescued from drowning in the icy waters of the Blackfoot River Friday morning.

Coroner Ralph Beck of Powell County, who brought the body to Missoula, said that Rev. Powell was fishing at Scotty Brown Bridge seven miles northwest of Ovando with J. W. Meis of Missoula when the accident occurred.

Rev. Powell slipped from a log into a deep hole in the river. A carload of five other fishermen happened to stop near the bridge at the same time. They quickly got a rope on Rev. Powell, and pulled him out of the water.

Mentioned Heart, Died

While assisting the minister to his car, he mentioned that he had a “bad heart,” and seconds later collapsed and died. Beck was notified and brought the body to Squire-Simmons-Carr Mortuary Friday afternoon.

Rev. Powell was born at Tipton, Ind. Aug. 10, 1891. At an early age he came to eastern Montana with his parents and lived on a homestead. He entered into the ministry in the mid 1920s, serving with the Salvation Army in Anaconda.

When he came to Missoula many years ago, he conducted his first services in a tent.

Using Missoula as a headquarters, he traveled throughout the state conducting gospel services.

Up to the time of his death, he continued to conduct services in the Full Gospel Church. He also conducted services at a mission on North Higgins Avenue.

He is survived by his second wife, Sarah M., and 11 children, Marvin and John, Missoula; Woodrow, Boise, Idaho; Mrs. Ray Walden, Toppenish, Wash.; Gerald of Parma, Idaho; Luther of Downey, Calif.; Mrs. Robert Mims, Mrs. William Tournbouth, and Mrs. Robert Castor, Spokane; James and Robert of Butte; 21 grandchildren; three brothers, Charles and Alfred of Missoula, and Ray of Tacoma, Wash.; six sisters, Mrs. Alfred Anderson, Culbertrson; Mrs. Marie Gabrielson, California; Mrs. Henry Jackson, Mrs. Ray Hurt, Mrs. Vern Willison and Mrs. George Ailts, Missoula, and several nieces and nephews.

Some early Missoulians remember Luther preaching on the street at North Higgins Ave. Reverend Powell’s family was well known in Missoula for many accomplishments, especially his son James, who was instrumental in founding the Christian Life Center in Missoula. James ‘Jimmy’ Powell died in 2014. His obituary below appeared in the Missoulian on October 5, 2014:

James William ‘Jimmy’ Powell

Missoula – James William “Jimmy” Powell had his own special “Homecoming” into the presence of Christ on Sunday morning, Sept. 28, 2014. He was 78 years old an was born in Missoula on July 18, 1936, to Reverend Luther and Bessie McGinnis Powell.

He was No. 13 of 14 children in the family. He attended Franklin grade school, Missoula County High School, where he was actively involved in Youth for Christ, and Montana State University, now the University of Montana. He was a basketball standout and was inducted into the University of Montana Hall of Fame on Feb. 16, 1980. He received his bachelor of science in business administration from the University of Montana.

At the university he met and married his lifelong love, Lee Ryan, who hailed from Evanston, Illinois. They just celebrated their 56th wedding anniversary. Together they have four children, Jim Jr., Tom, Julieanne and Richard.

Upon graduation, Jim was hired by New York Life in their group insurance department in Butte. He worked there for seven years, then returned to Missoula to open his own agency, Jim Powell insurance, which he ran for 40 years.

He was actively involved in the Assembly of God Church and was the chairman of the building committee which built the Christian Life Center in Missoula. He also served as a board member for the church. He belonged to the Goodfellows organization, whose mission was to help those in need and worked in their Missoula County Fair booth raising funds for 23 years. He served 12 years on the YMCA board and helped to pioneer the “Y” soccer program. He also coached YMCA boys’ basketball and sponsored a girls’ basketball team for 30 years.

Jim was a beacon of light to friends and family, he never knew a stranger and had a biding passion for God and life. He gave his time and smile freely to others and was selfless in his devotion to family and the Missoula community. He never had an unkind word for anyone. He was a wonderful storyteller and had an incredible sense of humor. Even someone that just met him would smile and realize his genuine warmth and love.

Surviving Jim are his loving wife, Lee; son Jim Jr. and his wife Barbara who have two daughters, Jessica and Emily; son Tom and his wife Lynda who have a son Parker and a daughter McKenna; daughter Julieanne and her husband Eric Siweck, who have four children, son Adam, daughter Joscelyn Cleland, son Carter and daughter Shannon Siweck; son Richard who has a son, Luther. Also holding the title of son in the family lineup is nephew Bob Powell Jr. and wife Charlene and their children, son Matthew, daughter Melissa and son Trevor.


The Powell family will be holding a celebration of Jim’s gifted life in the summer of 2015. Plans are in the works for a memorial fund in Jim’s name to help deserving young basketball athletes. Details will be forthcoming.

Last Updated on Sunday, 11 February 2018 20:49