Grant Bennion Powell
August 22, 1921 – July 4, 2019
Country boy. International consultant. War veteran. Story teller. Beloved husband, father, and grandpa. We are grateful to have shared the extraordinary life of Grant Bennion Powell, who passed away July 4th, just short of his 98th birthday.
Grant lived his life with integrity and honor. Born in Taylorsville, Utah, he often marveled at how far he traveled: from his days at Pine Clift being pulled in a horse drawn wagon, to serving in World War II and Korea, to his successful career as a business consultant that regularly took him to England, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Australia. His travels fostered a deep curiosity about others and their stories, and he never tired of asking others about their past, how they came to the States, and with boyish enthusiasm would state, “I’ve been there!” or “I speak Tagalog too!”
A child of the Depression, he kept an unwavering positive mindset. To him, the biggest hardship was an always-aggrandized telling of walking uphill in the snow to school—both ways. He valued education, inspired by his mother, who was one of the few women in the 1890s to obtain a college education. Grant was proud of all three of his alma maters: a semester at the University of Utah and a year at Colorado College, before finally finishing his business degree at UC Berkeley. He instilled a deep work ethic in his family, and set the example of being a lifelong learner: while writing his memoir (and at the urging of his grandson), he embraced technology, and switched from his beloved IBM selectric to an HP computer. He always had at least two books by his bedside, and just a month ago he was downloading iPhone apps to teach himself Spanish.
Grant was a proud Marine veteran of both World War II and the Korean War. The experiences he had informed the principled manner in which he lived his life, and he loved sharing his experiences; over the last year, he was writing a memoir of his Korean War experiences. He had a strong affinity for fellow vets, and he loved corralling people to join in singing the “Marine’s Hymn” –Semper Fi.
Grant met the love of his life, Beverly Carlisle, while they both attended Granite High in Salt Lake City. After their first date, he famously called to ask for a “return engagement”—"amazingly," in his words, she was charmed by him, and willingly waited for him during WWII and again during Korea. He was proud of her, as she worked at the Rad Lab, supporting them both. They were true partners, loved their family, and shared a commitment to God and service. Family was always Grant’s highest priority: he loved telling King Kong stories to his children and friends on annual trips to Tahoe, rejoiced as his daughters flew by him on the slopes at Alpine Meadows, spent hours talking, advising, and always offering support. He loved attending his grandson’s cross country races and plays; he loved hearing his granddaughter sing and he was full of pride in her hard work and accomplishments, and loved them both with his whole heart. His biggest delight was when he could take his sweetheart on trips, and they spent many happy time together traveling the world.
Grant thrived on the challenges of international consulting work, first at Louis A. Allen Associates and then as the president of his own business, The Powell Group. He loved teaching management and helping businesses embrace change. He spent considerable time in South Africa during the brutal apartheid regime, and considered Nelson Mandela one of his heroes. At the request of Dr. Anton Rupert, he had the opportunity to work with the provisional government of Lesotho.
While work and family consumed much of his energy, Grant was a firm believer in giving back, and he was proud of his civic involvement. He served as Board President of the Merritt Hospital Foundation, and President of Claremont Country Club.
Faith was a core foundation of Grant’s life. He was an active and engaged member of the First Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for over 50 years. With his intellectual curiosity, he studied other faiths, read the Koran, and enjoyed spirited conversations with his peers while playing an active role in the establishment of the Presidio Interfaith Council.
We will miss his humor, his kindness, his generosity of spirit, and the way he delighted in simple joys. Grant is survived by his two daughters, Rebecca and her husband Steve Rohrbach, Tracy and her husband Chet Barney, and his "two favorite grandchildren," Jesse and Caitlin.
A celebration of Grant’s life will be held at 1:30 pm on Thursday, July 25 at Claremont Country Club in Oakland. Gifts in honor of Grant can be made to Covia Foundation, 2185 N. California Blvd., Suite 215, Walnut Creek, CA 94596 or to the Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak Street, Oakland, CA 94607.