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HAMILTON - LM Powell, a man acclaimed as gracious, skillful, and kind throughout his long life, passed away on Sunday, June 9, in Hamilton. He was 93 years old.
LM was born in Hamilton to Ralph and Ruth (Waddell) Powell on May 31, 1926 and raised on his family’s dairy farm near Victor. He helped his parents work the farm on Sweathouse Creek throughout their lives, and cared for the farmland throughout his own.
Many of LM’s stories from his youth featured a fishing rod, a bike, and his dog, Pal, exploring the canyons of the Bitterroot Valley. In 1944 he enlisted in the US Navy and served on a sub chaser in the South Pacific.
After his discharge in 1946, he returned to Victor, where he later met Colleen Kane at a dance. They married in 1949, and their children Steven and Diana were born in 1951 and 1954. This year mark’s LM and Colleen’s 70th wedding anniversary.
His early work included manning Forest Service fire lookouts in the Bitterroot Mountains and working for the Soil Conservation Service in Billings. LM began his career with the Bitterroot National Forest in Hamilton in 1957. He flagged fire lines in the Bitterroot and worked as an engineer on many projects, including the Sleeping Child and Lake Como roads. His most notable contribution to the valley was negotiating public access to many of the Bitterroot trailheads. He covered many miles surveying National Forest boundaries. LM’s name is still seen on these old boundary markers.
He served on the City-County Planning Board in 1973-74, and on the Bitterroot Conservation District Board from 1988-93.
LM retired from the Forest Service in 1981, to focus on his business, Powell Surveying. After passing the company on to his son, he began enjoying his true retirement, spending his days fishing, duck hunting, woodworking, and whistling.
An all-around handyman, LM enjoyed woodworking and welding, and generously opened his shop to anyone who wanted to learn the crafts.
He’ll be remembered as gentle, considerate, honest and direct, a good listener who, in spite of his capabilities, displayed no ego or bravado. LM was a gifted and genuine storyteller, who delighted in entertaining his grandchildren with jokes and puns, and captured the attention of family and friends around the dinner table with tales of his outdoor and backcountry adventures.
LM was preceded in death by his parents, his son, Steven and son-in-law, Rick Simpson. He is survived by his wife, Colleen, daughter Diana Simpson and grandchildren Charlotte Powell and Brian Simpson.
The family suggests memorials or donations in his name to the Bitter Root Land Trust, or the charity of your choice. Private family services will be held. Condolences may be left for the family at www.dalyleachchapel.com.