It seems that everyone who knew him or even knew of him has an image of Dr. Jack Powers etched in their minds.
That image, from one longtime Fair Havenite’s mind to the next, has very similar traits — all that put a healing smile on their faces when looking back and speaking of him.
He was the Dr. Steven Kiely of Fair Haven. You know, that mod, sharp looking younger doc who practiced with Marcus Welby, MD on TV. He drove a sporty convertible (just as cool or cooler than the Kiely motorcycle), had good looks, a very hip, caring nature, platinum blonde hair and made house calls.
And, yes, he cared. Anyone who knew him felt that. He was the cool doc who knew everyone’s name, ailments and personalities. He made it his business. And it was just that for many years.
So, there was a wave of icon days-gone-by sadness peppered with gratitude that engulfed Fair Haven when residents past and present heard of his passing on Saturday.
Comments flooded the Fair Haven Facebook page, starting with the announcement of Powers’ death and photo collage and memorial tribute by Jeffrey White:
“Fair Haven lost a great man this weekend,” White said. “Dr. John ‘Jack’ Dennis Powers epitomized what a small town family doctor was. An expert diagnostician, he was like a second father and grandfather to so many of us. He and his wife Arny were best friends of my grandparents Molly and Jack. These pictures were taken in happier times. Jack was the last of the old gang, but now they are reunited once again. Let the parties resume! Rest In Peace Dr. Powers.”
The page’s administrator, Doug Newman, a family friend of Powers’, followed with his own tribute: “Now THERE was a pillar of the community. A family friend, a good and humble man.”
Nancy Lee Benedict called the day of Powers’ death a “a sad day for Fair Haven’s ‘Camelot.’ Some of us were very fortunate to know these people growing up. I know as I was one of them. The days when Fair Haven garage sales saw Jack & Jack walking among the neighbors. I also knew the Dr., who was my first crush. I would fake being sick so he would make a HOUSE CALL. Yes, he came to the house. Remember his white or red convertible?”
People remembered it as actually a powder blue mustang convertible with some sort of MD plates. The memories of him driving through town in that convertible are so iconic and strong that some said no matter the season, they don’t seem to ever remember seeing the top up.
Seeing Dr. Powers around town, at the office, making a house call or just plain driving through town was yet another comforting, knowing you’re home piece of growing up in Fair Haven.
“When I think of Fair Haven, I think of your Dad,” longtime former Fair Havenite Robin Drake Fitch said to Powers’ son on the Fair Haven page. “I always have and I always will … and he wasn’t even our doctor! (…although I secretly wished he was!)”
Yes. You are remembered, doc. You were appreciated. Thank you for, knowingly or not, being a part of our Fair Haven childhood. Rest in peace.
The following is Dr. Powers’ obituary, courtesy of Thompson Memorial Home:
Dr. John D. Powers (Jack) passed away on March 19 after a full and wonderful life. He was 92.
Born in Red Bank, he attended Red Bank public schools and later graduated from Colgate University where he studied pre-med. This was interrupted by three years of duty in the U.S. Navy.
After graduating from Midshipman School at Northwestern University in Chicago and sub-chaser school in Miami, he was deployed to the Pacific theater during the latter part of World War II just after the Iwo Jima invasion aboard the USS LSM 141.
After discharge from the Navy and completing college, he went to Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, followed by an internship in Lansing, Michigan. He returned to Fair Haven with his wife, Eleanor (Clayton) “Arny” Powers, whom he had married during junior year of medical school.
Dr. Powers was a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians and for fifty years conducted his practice with an ever present sense of joy and compassion. He was dedicated to his patients both during office visits and regular house calls.
Upon retirement in 1993, he became medical director of the Riverview Medical Center Outpatient Clinic, where he served for four years.
Dr. Powers was devoted to his wife and family of five children and their many activities including camping, sailboat cruising and extended family reunions. He was an active competitor in squash, tennis, sailboat racing and golf (the last being the most humbling). He also enjoyed sailboat cruising with friends and family.
He logged many memorable sailing voyages including regular family vacations to Block Island aboard his several sloops named â€˜Sprayâ€™ and most notable, a trip with several friends on a 65-foot sloop to Florida where they narrowly escaped disaster sailing through a rogue hurricane off the Carolinas.
Jack was a member of the Tower Hill Presbyterian Church for more than 50 years, which had a profound and positive influence on him and a long-time member of Monmouth Boat Club.
Left behind are: his four sons, Jack (and Jan), Tom (and Sally), Jim (and Megan), Stephen and daughter Bonnie Banahan (Jim), his Laotian son, Thowpaou ‘Bruce’ Bliatout; 13 grandchildren (Brittany, Andrew, Kelly, Robert, Buddy, Johnny, Kitty, Joseph, Stephen, Michael, Nikki, Sean and Jane) and many loving nieces and nephews.
Jack was predeceased by: his wife Eleanor Powers; parents Ellwood and Christine Powers; his sisters Marjorie and Jane; his daughter-in-law Terry; and three grandchildren, Joshua, Grace and Kathleen.
A memorial gathering will be held on Thursday, March 24 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Thompson Memorial Home, 310 Broad St, Red Bank. A memorial service will be held on Friday, April 29 at 11 a.m. at the Tower Hill Presbyterian Church, 255 Harding Rd, Red Bank. Charitable donations can be made to Hospice-VNA or the Parker Family Health Clinic.