Our beloved mother, sister, aunt, cousin, and friend Mary Edith Powell departed this life on
March 16, 2019, at the Parham Healthcare & Rehabilitation Center in Richmond, VA. Edith (as she was
most known), was born to the late Julius and Eva Howell on October 4, 1935, in Somerton, Virginia. She
was preceded in death by her parents, her husband (William A. Powell), two sisters (Ann Buggs & Velma
Dean Yates), and two brothers (Al Howell, Sr. & Roosevelt Howell).
Edith attended school in the Nansemond County, Virginia public school system. As a child, Edith
was always very creative. She excelled in sewing, art, singing gospel music and playing the piano. Edith
and her sisters, Velma Dean and Joan, formed a gospel singing group called "The Howell Sisters." With
Edith playing the piano they sang at various church services, funerals, schools, and community centers
throughout Virginia and North Carolina. With a deep love for music, Edith proceeded to sing in her high
school glee chorus and later in her college choir. She also had a great passion for developing our youth
in their formative years. Her ambition was to become a teacher. She enjoyed children and would light
up at the chance to make a difference in a young child's life. She majored in Elementary Education and
earned her B.S. degree in 1958 from Elizabeth City State Teachers College. She taught early childhood
education in various New York City public schools and day care centers. In 1976, she earned her Master
of Science degree in Education from The City College of New York and later became the assistant
director of the United Federation of Black Community Organizations (UFBCO) Child Development
Center, where she worked until her retirement in 1995.
In 1960, Edith married her love William A. Powell in New York City, and they raised two children,
Larry and Tara. While living in New York, she was a faithful member of St. John's Baptist Church in
Harlem and participated in their senior choir. In 1998, Edith relocated to her husband's hometown of
Warrenton, North Carolina and joined Warrenton Baptist Church. She became the pianist for the senior
choir and immersed herself in the Warrenton community. Edith participated in Ecumenical church
services and was active in the Warrenton County Senior Center, winning numerous awards and medals
for her artwork and participation in the Senior Games. She was always a service to her neighbors,
friends, church family, and the community in times of need. She also never forgot her church family in
New York City and frequently traveled north to participate in the St. John's Baptist Church senior choir
In her later years, Edith's health began to fail, and she moved to Richmond, Virginia where her
children could better care for her. In the assisted living facilities where she resided, she could be heard
singing and playing the piano to the delight of the other residents and staff. Though her memory was
failing, she never forgot the old church hymns. She always kept a smile on her face, an upbeat attitude,
a sense of humor, and a song in her heart despite her condition. With a heart of gold, she remained a
kind-hearted, generous woman who loved God and her family.
Surviving Edith is her daughter, Tara Powell of Bowie, MD, her son, Larry Powell, and daughter-
in-law, Violeta Powell of Henrico, VA. She also leaves a grandson, Adrian Garth of Guam; a sister, Joan H.
Harris of Topping, VA; a brother, William (Billy) Howell, and sister-in-law, Shirley Howell of Suffolk, VA; a
brother-in-law Deacon Herbert Lee Powell and sister-in-law Deaconess Clarine Powell of New York City;
and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.
Thank you, Lord, for blessing our lives with such a unique and beautiful person. We will miss
In Lieu of flowers the family requests donations to
Warrenton Baptist Church (114 S. Bragg St, Warrenton, NC 27589)
Dementia Society of America
The Alzheimer’s Association (alz.org) in place of flowers.