Obituary for Ab Powell

Published 8:04 am Thursday, August 22, 2019

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Abner Riley Powell III, 76, of Andalusia, died Thursday, Wednesday, August 21, in a local hospital after a valiant fight against lung cancer.

He was a 1961 graduate of Andalusia High School, where he played quarterback for the Bulldog football team and lettered in basketball and golf. He went on to earn a golf scholarship to the University of Alabama, and never tired of telling stories about his association with fellow athletes of that era.  He also graduated from the University of Alabama School of Law.


After law school, he came home to Andalusia where he joined his father, Abner Riley Powell Jr., in the law firm established by his grandfather, A.R. Powell. His son, Abner Riley Powell IV, later joined the firm, which continues today.


It was often said of him that he was equally as comfortable in a conversation with a construction worker over a game of pool as he was arguing before the Supreme Court. He fought for more than 50 years for clients who could not stand for themselves.


One of his most important career cases was a lawsuit in which he represented more than 100 farming families in the Wiregrass who had been defrauded by a New York company that claimed to be holding their soybeans for a better price, when they were in fact selling them to the Russians without the farmers’ consent. At the time, the favorable decision for the farmers was one of the largest verdicts ever returned in Alabama.


He was generous to a fault. In his later years, he often joked that his law career consisted mostly of providing free legal advice to his friends.


He was the youngest circuit judge in the United States when he was appointed to the post by Governor George Wallace in 1977.


One of his greatest joys in life was coaching flag football in the local youth leagues and watching his players mature into high school athletes. For many years, he was the color announcer for broadcasts of Andalusia Bulldog football. He was an excellent storyteller and loved to make people laugh.


Survivors include his children, grandchildren, wife, sister, and a large group of extended family and friends, all of whom he loved dearly.


A memorial service is planned for 1 p.m. on Friday, August 23, at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Andalusia Humane Society, 411 Pearl St., Andalusia, or the charity of one’s choice.