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Alfred Jackson “A.J.” Powell, a longtime resident of Quitman, Georgia, passed away September 12, 2019 at the age of 100. A.J. was born June 30, 1919 in Dixie, Georgia to Wallace and Essie Bowen Powell. He graduated from Dixie High School and studied at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College before graduating from the University of Georgia, earning a B.S. degree in Agriculture in 1942. Upon graduation, A.J. enlisted in the Army Air Corps. He met Mary Simpson on New Year’s Eve 1942, while in Maryland attending Officer Candidate School. His military career included service as a meteorologist and Ordinance Officer and ultimately he achieved the rank of Captain. He was stationed in New Orleans, Louisiana; Rio Hato, Panama (Albrook Air Force Station); and the Galapagos Islands. His courtship with Mary continued throughout World War II and the two were married on November 2, 1946. After moving back to Brooks County, A.J. organized the first Veterans’Farm Training program in the county, served as agriculture teacher for this group of veterans and later was promoted by the State Department of Education to Supervisor for the Veterans Agriculture Program for all the counties in South Georgia. In 1953, A.J. left the Department of Education and opened Powell’s Farm Supply, and not only provided feed, seed, fertilizer, hardware, and farm chemicals to area farmers, but also became an innovator in agricultural infrared photography and liquid fertilizer products. He also owned a farm east of Quitman (“Crooked Creek”) and raised beef cattle. A.J. was active in his profession, serving as President of the Georgia Seedsmen’s Association, President of Foundation Seeds, President of the Georgia Crop Improvement Association and on the Board of Directors of ChemNut, Inc.; active in his community serving as Chairman of the City Commission of Quitman, President of the Chamber of Commerce, Chairman of the Brooks County Hospital Authority, Director of Southern and South Georgia Railroad, Director of the Bank of Quitman, and President of the Kiwanis Club; and active in his Church, serving as RA Director, Chairman of Deacons, Sunday School teacher and Brotherhood President at Quitman First Baptist Church. He was notable for all of these achievements but perhaps most of all for his faith and for his love for others. His faith in Jesus was strong and one of the great joys of his life. He lived out Joshua 24:15 “...as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” His love for Mary, his wife of 71 years, was deep and apparent to all. He had a comforting presence; people were drawn to him. His circle of friends was broad and he genuinely cared for each of them. He was a true and loyal and faithful friend.
A.J. (Daddy, Grandaddy, Uncle Jay, Mr. A.J.) loved people and being around family and friends. His family remembers fun times on the family farm, “The Ponderosa”, how enthusiastically he decorated for Christmas, and how much he enjoyed simply spending time together, telling stories and laughing. He loved to build a fire in the fireplace (as soon as the temperature dipped below 70°), or on the farm (sometimes the fire department had to get involved. . .). He was an avid reader and sports fan (Braves baseball; UGA football). He loved being outdoors, riding horses, fishing, working with cows (although the relationship with cows was tumultuous at times). He was generous in all ways; he was faithful in prayer, in Bible study, and as a deacon and Sunday School teacher at First Baptist Church of Quitman. The words of Matthew 25:23 exemplify how he lived: “well done, good and faithful servant. . . enter into the joy of your lord.”
A.J. is survived by his three children: Beth (Jody) Slocum, Jay (Deidra) Powell, and Lisa (Tim) McEachern. He has nine grandchildren: Kathi (Bryan) Gaps, Amy (John) Goode, Becky (Eric) Mason, Daniel McEachern, Jessica Powell, Erica (Cole) Grier, Emily (Will) Min, Elizabeth (Parker) Albright, and Travis McEachern; and eight great-grandchildren: Judymarie and Madelyn Gaps, Jackson and Zoe Goode, Abigail and Silas Mason, Jacob Min, and John Parker Albright. He was preceded in death by his father and mother, Wallace and Essie Powell, his sister, Louise Willis, sister, Ruth Graham and his wife of 71 years, Mary S. Powell.
Funeral services will be held Sunday, September 15, 2019 at 3:00 p.m. at Quitman First Baptist Church with Rev. Steve Shierling officiating. The family will be receiving friends one hour prior to the service at the church. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Quitman First Baptist Church or the Georgia Baptist Children’s Home.