Originally created 05/17/99

Mr. LeRoy Powell



DECATUR, Ga. -- Longtime Georgia television personality LeRoy Powell lost his battle with cancer and pneumonia Sunday.

Mr. Powell, 55, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, which affects the bloodstream and bones, in February. He was hospitalized three weeks ago at DeKalb Medical Center after contracting bacterial pneumonia.

In a recent resolution adopted by the Georgia Legislature, Mr. Powell was described as one of Georgia's greatest treasures.

"His funny, down-home, self-effacing, and distinctively Southern approach to story-telling has entertained and often touched Georgians over the past 20 years," the resolution read.

Mr. Powell began his career at WALB radio in Albany after graduating from the University of Georgia. He moved to Atlanta to work as a television cameraman for WAGA-TV, where he spent about 20 years of his career.

During a visit to an Atlanta pub, Mr. Powell once got in front of a camera to comment on the negative aspects of generic beer.

"I was at Manuel's Tavern in Atlanta between Christmas and New Year's," Powell told the University of Georgia's magazine Alumni Spectrum in 1989. "There was no one in the station with enough authority to tell me not to do the piece. Since Manuel had a collection of beer cans, I wanted to explain how un-American generic beer was."

From there, the Opelika, Ala., native's career blossomed.

He became a commentator, producing segments such as: LeRoy Loves New York, LeRoy Loves London, LeRoy Loves L.A., and LeRoy Loves the South.

Mr. Powell also commented on motorcycle sports on Speedvision and provided outdoor features and commentary on ESPN. He most recently worked as the co-host of Georgia Public Television's Georgia Outdoors.

Mr. Powell's unique approach to commenting on not-so-unique ideas gained him numerous awards and acclaim.

"He would have been happy to be a cameraman for the rest of his life." Mr. Powell's friend and former co-worker Steve Carmichael said Sunday. "What he did is take his sense of humor that we heard day-in, day-out and put it into a form that would work on television."

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution summed it up:

"Imagine Andy Rooney with a good disposition. Dave Barry on tranquilizers or Garrison Keillor with a Southern accent and you have some idea of LeRoy Powell's sense of humor. LeRoy Powell gives good-ol' boys a good name."

Mr. Powell is survived by his wife of 31 years, Valerie Johnson Powell; a son, John Powell of Ft. Jackson, S.C.; and a daughter, Carrie Powell of Smyrna.

A memorial service is scheduled for Tuesday. The family asks that donations be made to the LeRoy Powell Broadcast Journalism Scholarship through the UGA Foundation.