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1120 E. Main Street
Vermillion, SD 57069
Phone: 605-624-2829
Fax: 605-624-2931
John Powell

John E. "Jack" Powell

Sunday, June 21st, 1936 - Monday, April 20th, 2020
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John Edwin (“Jack”) Powell was born June 21, 1936 in the Reading, Pennsylvania hospital to Vernon and Theresa (Speece) Powell, and was welcomed home by older brother Robert and sister Ann.

He spent four years in West Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. His family then moved to Chicago, Illinois where his parents went to Bethany Biblical Institute to enter the ministry. They took their first parish in Kingsley, Iowa where brother Duane and sister Debra joined the family.

Jack graduated from high school in Kingsley, Iowa and went to Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa to become a math teacher. He graduated in 1958 with a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics.

He married Kay Herbold in Kingsley, Iowa in June of 1958. They had two children, a son Vern and a daughter Rhonda.

He taught at Correctionville, Iowa for three years, and while there, drove Monday nights to the University of South Dakota and earned a Master’s degree in Mathematics.

He began a forty-five year love affair with USD teaching mathematics. In the 1960’s, he started the first USD Computer Center. In 1969, he moved his family to Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana where he received an M.B.A. and Ph.D. in Quantitative Business Analysis. He returned to USD and moved to the USD Business School where he taught Operations Management, Production and Operations Management, and Management Information Systems. In addition to his teaching and Division Chair roles at USD, he also served on the University Senate, the Athletic Board of Control, Faculty Athletics Representative (ten years), and served on the NCAA Division II Rules Committee. He served as a timer for USD Track and Field for over thirty years and was affectionately known as the “Shot Clock Guy” for USD Men’s and Women’s Basketball for over thirty-five years.

Public service, helping others, being involved, and giving back to his community were very important to Jack. He served as Mayor of the City of Vermillion for ten years (was elected for three terms) and City Council Alderman for ten years prior to that. During that tenure, he was sponsored by Missouri River Energy Services on the American Public Power Association’s Policy Makers Council which is a board made up of forty people across the country. At the local level he served and supported various boards and organizations including: Vermillion Chamber of Commerce and Development Company, National Music Museum, WH Over Museum, Main Street Center, United States Coast Guard Auxiliary (twenty-five years), USD Foundation, USD Athletics, United Church of Christ, Vermillion Lions Club, Dakota Hospital Foundation, United Way of Vermillion, Clay County Historical Society, Vermillion Area Community Foundation, South Dakota Community Foundation, Heartland Humane Society, Missouri Valley Growth/Vermillion Now, Vermillion Area Dance Organization, Vermillion Public Transit, Vermillion Public Schools Foundation and Booster Club, Vermillion Public Library, Local Emergency Planning Committee, Integrated Community Action Plan, Welcome Table, Vermillion Food Pantry, Community Connection Center, and others.

Jack’s partner in life, soul mate, and best friend for the past twenty years is Lisa Ketcham. They married in March of 2006. They had two “furry” children, cats Felix and Chloe.

Over the past five and a half years, Jack dealt with some significant and unique health issues. Despite those challenges and beating many odds along the way, he was an amazing patient with strong faith, a positive outlook, and determined to live life to the fullest. He was very fortunate, blessed, and thankful to have world-class medical care and cutting-edge treatment through the collaborative efforts of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Sanford Health in Sioux Falls, Sanford Health in Vermillion, the Olson Medical Clinic, and Sanford Hospice. In addition, the loving care, concern, and support from his wife Lisa, family, friends, professional colleagues, and the community were truly incredible and invaluable to him on the journey.

Jack was preceded in death by his parents Vernon and Theresa, sister Ann, and brother Duane. He is survived by wife Lisa, son Vern, daughter-in-law Sheila, grandchildren Logan, Wesley, Jorgen, Kamie, and Garrett, daughter Rhonda, daughter-in-law Isabel, brother Bob, sister-in-law Phyllis, sister Debra, brother-in-law Steve, nieces and nephews, the Ketcham and Parsons families, and a host of special friends.

Jack’s legacy will live on in the many community projects that he was a part of, and in the hearts and minds of the many people whose lives he touched.

Jack passed away peacefully at home on April 20, 2020. Memorials can be directed to the Powell Family Scholarship at the University of South Dakota, USD Athletics, and the United Church of Christ Congregational in Vermillion.
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Service Details

  • Visitation

    Sunday, June 20th, 2021 | 5:00pm - 7:00pm
    Sunday, June 20th, 2021 5:00pm - 7:00pm
    United Church of Christ (Vermillion)
    226 East Main St.
    VERMILLION, SD 57069
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    Prayer service at 7:00 PM
  • Service

    Monday, June 21st, 2021 | 10:30am
    Monday, June 21st, 2021 10:30am
    United Church of Christ (Vermillion)
    226 East Main St.
    VERMILLION, SD 57069
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email


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Brad Randall

Posted at 03:41pm
Although I knew Jack was in poor health, I was deeply saddened to see his obituary in the paper. I had the great honor of serving on the National Music Museum Board with Jack for several years. While president of the Board, Jack's assistance was invaluable, both as our treasurer and (most importantly) as a friend. I will always remember Jack's smile and good humor. USD and the city of Vermillion were both lucky to have had the benefit of his wisdom and leadership.

Jeff M. Peters

Posted at 08:31am
I am sorry to hear of the passing of Jack. I was a student of his in the MBA program at USD in the late 80's. Working as a graduate assistant at the Business Research Bureau at the School of Business, I got to see and talk with Jack often. He was always helpful and you could stop and talk with him anytime. He had great listening skills. Not only was he a great teacher, it always seemed like he enjoyed passing his knowledge to his students. We continued to communicate with each other over the years since he built a great relationship with an electric utility company that I work for in Sioux Falls. I will miss Jack.

Jeff M. Peters

Terry and Joan Nelson

Posted at 08:00am
Jack was a great guy, always a big smile and something good to say. He was so proud of his children and grandchildren spoke of them often. So sorry for your loss. Terry and Joan

The Alpha Eta Chapter of Delta Sigma Pi

Posted at 04:11pm
"The world is better because he dwelt upon it."
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