NORTH AUGUSTA - It's only fitting that on the day he was put to rest, those bidding William L. Powell goodbye focused on fishing.
There's one passage about fishing that's not in the Bible but should be, Dr. Gary Redding, the pastor of First Baptist Church of North Augusta, said.
On top of a big-screen TV in the Powell living room is a plaque, he said, and it reads, "An old fisherman lives here with the finest catch of his life."
That brought laughter to the hundreds of mourners gathered Friday to say goodbye to the 61-year-old former transportation engineer, who was killed early Tuesday morning in a shooting at a North Augusta Huddle House.
The shooter, who also injured Mr. Powell's longtime friend, the Rev. Earl Carter, 64, and Constance Davidson, 59, has not been apprehended.
Mr. Powell, who was cremated, is survived by his wife, Mary Alice, and two daughters, Laura and Beth. The friends he and the Rev. Carter were meeting for coffee at the restaurant - who called themselves the "board of directors" - were honorary pallbearers.
Mr. Powell was remembered as a caring family man and devout Christian who was blessed with the talent to build roads.
Mr. Powell, who was retired from the Georgia Department of Transportation, engineered the construction of River Watch Parkway in Augusta.
"I wonder how many people riding down River Watch Parkway - that beautiful part of Augusta - see God in a way they never have before, because it was built by a man with skill in his fingers," said the Rev. Richard Smith, a longtime Powell family friend and Spartanburg minister who spoke at the service.
The Rev. Smith said that while many people in the world succeed at all the wrong things, "Bill was successful at the right thing. He cherished his family and loved the Lord."
Dr. Redding called the past few days an "absolutely awful week" and said the shooting has paralyzed the community.
The death of Mr. Powell was not God's work, he said.
"You have to accept that some things that happen are the work of the devil," he said.
But he said he took comfort in knowing that God did not abandon Mr. Powell, instead taking him from the "clutches of death" and claiming him for heaven.
"I don't believe for a minute that God took Bill Powell away from us," he said.
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Developments in the Shooting
- Authorities continue to follow up on numerous leads on Tuesday's shootings suspect called in to the North Augusta Department of Public Safety, Lt. Tim Pearson said.
- Police are also focusing on the suspected weapon used in the shootings: either an SKS- or AK-47-type assault rifle that could be used to fire a 7.62-by-39 mm round, Lt. Pearson said.
- He said investigators want to speak to people in the area who possess those types of weapons or might know anything of a suspicious nature regarding those types of weapons.
- Meanwhile, posters of the artist's sketch of the suspect continue to hang in windows across the area.
- The suspect is described as a white man, 20 to 25 years old, 5 feet 4 inches to 5 feet 8 inches tall, weighing 140 pounds, with brown eyes, dark eyebrows and sandy brown hair. He was last seen wearing a heavy multicolored jacket, a black or blue ski mask and heavy brogan shoes.
Anyone with information is asked to call the North Augusta Department of Public Safety at (803) 279-2121.
- Jeremy Craig, staff writer