Saturday, January 02, 2010

7410: Bill Powell (1916-2009).

From nationwide news sources…

‘Made golf a beacon for people of all color’
BILL POWELL | 1916-2009

CANTON, Ohio—Bill Powell, the first African American to build, own and operate a golf course, died Thursday. He was 93.

The PGA of America said Mr. Powell died at Aultman Hospital in Canton following complications from a stroke.

“Bill Powell will forever be one of golf’s most unforgettable American heroes,” PGA of America President Jim Remy said. “Bill made us appreciate the game and each other that much more by his gentle yet firm example.

“He was born with a fire within his heart to build on his dream. In the process, he made golf a beacon for people of all color. The PGA of America is better today because of individuals like Bill Powell.”

In August, Mr. Powell received the PGA Distinguished Service Award, the association’s highest annual honor. In November, he was inducted into the Northern Ohio PGA Hall of Fame.

The grandson of Alabama slaves, Mr. Powell created Clearview Golf Club after returning home following World War II. Mr. Powell worked 18-hour days to support his family and build Clearview. Denied a GI Loan, he found funding from two African-American physicians, and his brother took out a second mortgage on his home.

Mr. Powell went on to carve Clearview out of former dairy farmland in 1946, clearing the land himself. In the process, he broke down racial barriers without fanfare by developing female and youth golf leagues.

Clearview opened its initial nine holes in 1948. Mr. Powell eventually repaid his benefactors to gain full ownership. Clearview is on the National Register of Historic Places and nicknamed “America’s Course.”

“I didn’t build this course for any of the recognition,” Mr. Powell said in his 2000 autobiography, Clearview: America’s Course. “It was a labor of love.”

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