William Powell

Obituary of William Patrick Powell

February 24, 1956 – March 21, 2024


William “Bill” Patrick Powell died peacefully surrounded by his family on March 21, 2024.


While Bill rose to real prominence in the field of finance, his youth was misspent in all the best ways. Born in Boston, MA, Bill’s family settled in Ridgefield, CT, as he entered 7th grade. There, Bill made lifelong friends with several miscreants who together generated enough stories about working odd jobs and painting houses to entertain each other and their wives for the next 50 years. It was also in these years that Bill developed a love for skiing at which he truly excelled and eventually shared the sport with his family. His aggressive skiing left him with many memories and just about as many injuries.


After Bill’s teen career painting every house on Main Street in Ridgefield, Bill developed broader dreams, eventually landing at Duke University where he enrolled in a BA/MBA dual-degree program at Fuqua School of Business. It was in Bill’s last year of business school that he met his wife, Linda, an undergraduate. Theirs was a whirlwind romance. After the first date, Bill reported he knew Linda was “the one.” Bill and Linda married at Duke Chapel nine months later and drove a U-Haul to NYC to begin careers in finance and retail, respectively.


As the children began to arrive, the first four in five years, Bill and Linda moved to Pelham Manor, NY, where they raised their family until a fifth child suggested they might need more space. In 1998, they moved to New Canaan, CT, with children Skip, Claudia, Henry and Jack, where they still reside.


Professionally, after a brief stint at Chase Bank, Bill quickly built a reputation as an investment banker with Dillon, Read & Co. Bill’s keen intelligence, work ethic, integrity and capacity to understand complex financial situations led to his fast rise to Managing Director and leading roles in both Mergers & Acquisitions and Corporate Finance, which he continued at UBS. During the heyday of M&A deals on Wall Street, many relied particularly on Bill’s ability to deal with difficult situations and people.


Bill also occupied the position of Managing Director at William Street Advisors before leaving to establish a family office; 535 Partners. Though Bill was the architect of many famous mergers as a banker, his greatest professional joy was realized as Chairman of the Board of CONSOL Energy. Bill was challenged intellectually and fulfilled personally by the relationships he formed throughout his seven-year tenure. He had previously held board positions with CNX and Cytec Industries. Bill also found great satisfaction serving from 2000 to 2008 on the board of IESC, a non-profit organization catalyzing private sector growth and economic opportunities in the developing world.


No matter the occasion – be it Christmas or just a Saturday – Bill loved to create special moments for those around him. Always quietly, a fire was laid, the corn hole set up, the ping pong table unfolded, and everyone’s remembered favorite drink served. Afterward, magically, everything was clean and back in its place.


Bill had an effortless charm and could hold court anywhere he went, though it should be noted that his 6’4” stature, piercing blue eyes and dimpled smile were helpful in this matter. Dogs sat by him, children approached intently, and generations of Wall Street aspirants tapped into his wealth of knowledge as he loved mentoring ambitious young people. And he was known to tell a good story, adding some top spin when called for. If he leaned into a conversation around a fire or kitchen table and said his signature beginning, “By the way…,” everyone got ready for hilarity or astonishment to ensue.


Bill was meticulous in all things; his checkbook balanced to the penny, his cars clean as a whistle and his yard regularly cleared of any errant leaves. Happiest solving problems and getting things done, if you dropped by the Powell house at any given time, you were likely to find Bill in his work clothes with a bucket, a shovel, some tools and a plan.


And while Bill did love a plan, his interests were broad and nuanced and often the plan might be to whisk Linda away to Florence or Madrid or Pasadena; anywhere he had just heard about an art exhibit they might enjoy. In recent years Bill and Linda had begun to enjoy some of their “empty nest” dreams with trips to France and Spain as well as making plans to renovate their farm in Dutchess County, NY, and enjoying golf, hiking and family at their home in Linville, NC.


Among his varied interests, Bill shone as an outdoorsman. With a fly rod or a shotgun, Bill had few equals. To watch him cast a fly into a promising distant ripple was poetry and he was a true spectacle with a mere 28 gauge or any other firearm. Folks both loved and hated to shoot with Bill Powell; loving to witness the talent but hating to consider any comparison. Bill’s sons inherited the gift and when the Powell boys showed up, the hunt was on – and the competition fierce. The Stone House in Clove Valley was home to favorite family memories including son Skip's wedding.


The trips with friends and family to every corner of the globe in pursuit of his hobbies were memories he cherished beyond measure. Bill cultivated shared experience knowing that the real “trophy” was always personal relationships.


One can’t speak of Bill and hunting without mentioning his beloved field companion and black lab, Cole. Bill was besotted with his dog and lost interest in much shooting, preferring to guide with Cole while others shot. Years after Cole’s death, it was still not something Bill could talk about.


Of course, the relationships he cherished most were with his family. He was just so devoted to Linda and his four surviving children, taking such delight in their interests and trying to expand their world experience. Hunting trips to Argentina with Skip and Henry, meeting Claudia in Belgium for a jaunt, visiting Jack in London while he studied abroad. To his children, Bill was both a hero and a friend; playful and protective, a trusted source of comfort and advice.


And while each child knew they were deeply loved, all joked with each other that they understood Mom was the real center of Bill’s world, and they were welcome to drop by on occasion. Bill loved nothing more than the everyday opportunities to spend one-on-one time with his wife; whether dining at one of the restaurants where they were regulars; taking their daily beach walks; or during and post-COVID, renting out two rows at the movie theater every week so they could sit alone, together.


Watching their children fall in love, marry and have children of their own was the highlight of Bill and Linda’s married life. To his beautiful granddaughters, Bill was “Papa”; the loving and warm man leaning in to listen deeply and meet a small child where they were. Whether reading a book while making exaggerated animal noises or initiating a “Bill-ow fight,” Papa’s greatest joy in recent years was a new and enriching role he was making all his own.


As news of Bill’s untimely death spread, the family is perhaps most proud of having people from every walk of life most often describe him as “kind.” He was known to all as the most generous-hearted man. Bill was the guy anyone called if they were in trouble or suffering. He had a way of making things happen, whether it was renegotiating someone’s delinquent student debt, helping with a house payment, or quietly and often anonymously helping friends and strangers in crisis.


Bill’s family and friends will forever miss and remember his encyclopedic knowledge of all birds, his irresistible charm, wry wit, loving heart and desire to know who borrowed his hammer and didn’t put it back. Words are insufficient to describe his life, so his family will try to live theirs with the same heart, wisdom, courage, perseverance and humor that Bill always inspired in us.


Bill is survived by his wife of more than 43 years, Linda Rand Burton Powell; their children, William “Skip” Burton Powell (Lauren), Claudia Lindsay Powell Wray (Trip), Henry Harrison Powell, and John “Jack” Kenan Powell (Ellie); granddaughters June Donnelly Powell, Nora Charlotte Powell, and Willa Powell Wray; siblings John Powell (Mary Hills), Claudia Vieth (Charlie), and Eileen Smith (Tad); siblings-in-law Lindsay Leckie, Claude “Skip” Burton III (Marjorie), Robbie Horn (Gerry), and Melanie “Dolly” Savery (Trip); and 17 nieces and nephews whose partners and children he also held dear.


Bill was predeceased by his son William Patrick Powell Jr., his parents-in-law, Claude Shreve Burton Jr. and Carma Lindsay Burton, and parents John and Patricia Powell.


Bill’s family would like to thank the neurovascular surgery and neurology ICU teams at Yale New Haven Hospital for their compassion and expertise.


Memorial contributions may be made in his name to Yale School of Medicine, specify “Neurovascular Surgery Program,” PO Box 7611, New Haven, CT 06519. You may also donate online at bit.ly/BILL-YSM. The fund supports research and education in the field.


Or, make a gift in Bill’s honor to IESC at bit.ly/BILL-IESC. A gift to IESC helps to create economic opportunity and improve the lives of people across the economically developing world.


A private celebration of life will be held on Saturday, June 1.


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