Monday, August 8, 2016

In Memory of Bill Powers, by Buddy Bohn

Shotgun Bill Powers, Mammoth Lakes, circa 2010

Bill Powers grew up in Azusa, CA. where he became an All American swimmer at Azusa High School. He swam for Citrus College and won the school’s first state championship for the 100 yd. breaststroke. In his early youth he developed a love of fishing and hunting. Bill served in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Hawaii, where he continued his passion for water sports and skydiving, making over 300 jumps over Oahu. He spent many days surfing the North Shore and made many friends of the local legends. After his military service, Bill became an L.A. City Ocean Lifeguard in the early 70’s and resided at the Doman Manor on 25th Street in Santa Monica. In addition to lifeguarding, Bill was training golden retrievers, surfing, sailing, hunting, fishing, and skiing. During the merger of L.A. City and County lifeguard services, Bill started guarding more of the County beaches and became a permanent lifeguard. At that time he was living at Topanga Beach and working the Northern Section. Bill eventually purchased a home on Old Mammoth Rd. where he spent most of his time when not working the beach. 

Bill and L.R. in Mammoth Lakes, circa 2012

Bill’s friend of 54 years, Harold Behnke, had this to say, “Powers was the original extreme sports participant. He was a skydiver, paraglider, skier, monoskier, snowboarder, motorcycle rider, hunter, fisherman, surfer, sailor.”  Harold noted, “His love of golden retrievers and his training methods produced some of the greatest 4-legged companions a human being could ask for. His compassion for the outdoors was unsurpassed.” Bill was always a gracious, humble person who found great satisfaction in helping people, especially in passing on his skills in sporting endeavors. He was extremely unselfish. Bill’s friend for more than 40 years, John Thomas, shared that in addition to being an all American breaststroker, Bill was also a blazingly fast sprinter who once bested Olympic champion Zac Zorin in the 50 yard freestyle.

When Bill retired from the lifeguard service he moved full time to his Mammoth home, which had become the place for lifeguards to visit and play year around.  For years, Bill was referred to by his fellow guards as, “The Off Duty Specialist”. In retirement Bill was the ultimate sportsman. Up before dawn, he’d load up his dogs in his truck and take them to an open field to train and exercise them, then drop by the local coffee shop for a cup. 

Bill training a then young L.R. Photo by Buddy Bohn. Used here with permission.

By 6:30 a.m. he’d drop off the dogs at home and either hit the mountain, go fishing, paragliding, or off-roading; Sometimes all in one day. Several years ago Bill started feeling his body beginning to fail him. He finally sought medical attention and was diagnosed with a form of neuropathy, which may have been brought on by traumatic and/or repetitive stress injuries. He underwent spinal surgery to relieve some of his pain, but his mobility continued to decline. Bill realized his increasing limitations, and sold his Mammoth home and relocated further down the mountain below the snow line in Paradise, CA.

Bill Powers, May 12, 2016.
"Cowboy" in Paradise, Calif. May 2016.

He had a beautiful view of the mountains and valley, with plenty of fresh air. He had his boat for fishing Lake Crowley, ATV’s for exploring, and his cherished dog, Cowboy, for companionship. It was with great sadness his friends witnessed Bill’s decline in his last years, but his spirit and enthusiasm for life remained unbowed. Recently, Bill became house bound and needed a walker to get around. He had difficulty speaking and could no longer drive. Last week Bill was found unconscious on the floor of his home, by a ‘Meals on Wheels’ worker, who had become a friend. The medics transported him to the local hospital but Bill passed away the following day. Bill was an amazing sportsman, explorer and adventurer.

Happy trails to Bill! Until we meet again. We will all miss our old friend and his zest for adventure and life.

Buddy Bohn


Thanks to input from:
John Thomas
Randy DeGregori
Jim Doman
Robbie Dick
Harold Behnke
Beth Bohn


*** Many Thanks to Buddy Bohn for sharing these thoughtful remarks with all of us. 


***  Aug. 31, 2016 Update; Memorial Service for Bill Powers Announced:

Reception to follow at WRHQ, hosted by Bill's family. Note: 
*** BYO Beach Chair/Blanket. Beach attire.

Respectfully submitted,

"County Recurrent" News

(All photos by & Copyright Will Maguire. 2010 - 2016, unless otherwise indicated.)

***   ***   ***


Mike said...

Bill was a great and very talented competitor and all around nice guy. Glad to hear he had a happy life.

Mag Scott said...

He was the oldest of 25 plus cousins. He was the one with an easy rapport with our aunts and uncles and a connection to all of us younger cousins. His wealth of knowledge on everything outdoors was something I couldn't ever get enough of. He told great stories, always! I realize now that while it had a lot of truth in it, there may have been just a little added flare to it. His mom would share with me some great stories of his early escapades. He was her world. I always thought of him as bigger than many of my TV heroes, mostly because he actually lived it versus acting it out. I enjoyed the times visiting with him at his mom's house in Glendora in the 70's. I very vividly remember him once saying "Where else can you surf in the morning, ride a horse in the afternoon, and then snow-ski in the evening?" Only in California, of course. It's what keep me loving this great state. Anna was one of his dogs at that time. He was an incredible dog trainer. I had never seen anyone work a dog quite like him. He commands so soft, yet she responded immediately. And she absolutely loved him. His love of life and his never quit attitude has instilled in me a focus on all the positives of this journey we call life. Thank-you 'Skip' for your gift of you. Rest in Peace 'Cuz, until we meet again. With Love and Prayers, Margaret (Majus)

greg pfeifer said...

On the chairlift at Mammoth one day Bill had some words of wisdom about lifeguarding for me that I will always remember: "Go to work, do a great job, have a great time doing it, take the money and run!"

susispot said...

I just learned this morning I have lost one of my oldest and dearest friends. Bill became a fixture in my life when we were 8 yrs old and riding horses at the Happy Hour Stables in Temple City, CA. I read this lovely tribute to him and couldn't agree more with the kind words shared about him. Over the years I had been around to share many of his adventures. I can't imagine never being able to see him again. I will miss him forever. Susi (Steele) Loughnane