Hearts that Give: Harold and Eunice Powell
We seem to be drawn to stories that are full of simple generosity these days. As Mother Teresa penned, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
Stories of “small things” encourage our hearts. Stories of ordinary people living out small actions of love — stories of people like Harold and Eunice Powell.
As their love and legacy lives on through their whole family, I was especially grateful to talk with one of their daughters about the Powells’ special heritage of generosity. Growing up in Lakeland, Florida, she shared some memories of her parents she holds with great fondness.
I think you’ll find the simple, yet compelling, threads of compassion in the Powells’ lives inspiring for this time of weighty reality we all find ourselves navigating.
Join me as we remember Harold and Eunice — perhaps even imagine you’re seated on the front Florida porch with us, a glass of sweet tea or lemonade in hand.
I remember as a little girl that Daddy picked fruit. He’d leave before daylight, riding in the back of the truck to the groves, and then he’d ride back on top of the day’s pick. Life was hard. He made just about $7-$10 a week.
Mother kept the family going with her frugal attitude — even through the years of the Great Depression. Daddy made the money, and he also liked to spend it. He loved cars, but I can still hear Mother’s voice — “the car’s fine now, it’ll last as long as we will.” She’d be a helpful voice to us all now, I think. They really helped each other. I remember them using envelopes for budgeting. The first one was always the tithe.
Daddy later worked at Publix for 27 years. Again, life wasn’t always so easy — he made about $6.50 an hour up until he retired. However, Publix also had a profit-sharing plan where each employee was given stock in the company. That stock grew during his tenure, which enabled him and Mother to give so generously to many organizations later on in their lives. I like to think the Lord blessed Publix because Daddy worked there.
My parents’ faithfulness and generosity really mark many of my memories. They valued connection with family and offered this sense of family to others. I know Daddy did what God wanted him to do too. He had a great sense of humor and loved to laugh. Even in retirement when Daddy couldn’t walk very well, he said the Lord reminded him, “You’ve got lots of neighbors that don’t know me.” So off on his golf cart he’d go to check-in and do some chatting. He was well-read and loved his Bible. Mother was a bit more solemn, but together they offered comfort and care to many.
I also remember Daddy was especially a man of prayer … and he prayed loud. There were several occasions later in his life when neighbors recounted hearing him pray. The first, a neighbor from one of their earlier homes, commented that as a boy he would pass by our house and hear Daddy pray as he was milking our family’s cow. Another was from one of their newer homes. A neighbor boy could overhear Daddy’s Bible and prayer time from the family mudroom. Daddy shared with us that this same neighbor, a few years later as a young man, came to the house in the middle of night, knocked on the door, and asked if Daddy would pray with him because his marriage had hit a rough spot.
So, as you can imagine, Daddy was always asking people if they knew the Lord. He was quick to break out in song around the house too. He loved music and always had a tune ready — yet he also had a talent for easily fitting a hymn lyric to the wrong tune. “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” could quickly turn into “When We All Get to Heaven” — but both were uplifting all the same.
Mother was a great cook, offering care to many pastors and missionaries who came through our home. We had our own chickens and she would do it all — farm to table in the truest sense. I’m really not quite sure how she ever ate any chicken herself! Her fried chicken was a local favorite. On one occasion a guest even stopped at the door as he was leaving, asking if Mother might have just one more piece! Our family dinners often ended with apple pie and ice cream, always with plenty to share with whomever was joining us.
While her hospitality spoke volumes of her heart, I remember most the ways she invited whomever she could to join us and then worked to serve with whatever we had. Mother even offered up her own bed to one of our sick neighbors once. It was always about the people and not the surroundings.
I’m sure many of us have special people in our lives — people who have left a legacy — people like Harold and Eunice. We probably wish we could call them just about now.
I hope this story brings up memories of your own and encourages you to keep on giving, one day at a time.
Whether it be with our chicken recipe, or our prayers, or even our bed — may we have ears to hear and eyes to see the needs around us — and then the courage to move and meet them. May God form in us his self-giving nature and, like Harold and Eunice, may we do for others as we would have them do for us. (Matthew 7:12)
While their salary was never very high, Harold and Eunice Powell were remarkably generous stewards. Upon their passing, Harold and Eunice gave a significant gift from their estate to Global Partners. Their legacy continues to amplify the mission globally and has helped 20 students graduate nursing school in Haiti, 85 pastors around the world reach ordination, and resourced 21 missionary units. For more information on how to create a lasting legacy that changes lives for Christ, go to globalpartnersonline.org/donate/leave-a-legacy/.