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Gordon B. ‘Brooks’ Powell Jr., 75, named the ‘Spirit of Bald Head Island’

Gordon Brooks Powell Jr.

BALD HEAD ISLAND — Gordon B. “Brooks” Powell Jr., 75, formerly of Danville, Va., passed away Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017.

Brooks was preceded in death by his parents, Gordon Brooks Powell and Sarah Durham Powell.

He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Antoinette “Toni” Crocker Powell of Bald Head Island; son, Gordon Brooks Powell III, and his wife, Kate Stokely Powell, of Danville, Va.; daughter, Antoinette “Anne” Powell Liles, and her husband, John Liles of Southport; two grandchildren, Gordon Brooks Powell IV and Virginia Louise Powell of Danville, Va.; first cousins, William H. Fuller III and Anne Wayne Fuller Patterson, both of Danville, Va.; nieces, cousins and a huge, extended family of former students and beloved friends.

Brooks was educated in the Danville Public School System, graduating from George Washington High School in 1960. In 1964, he graduated from Campbell University, where he earned an AAS degree and a B.S. degree. In 1968, he earned an M.S. degree in history from the University of Richmond School of Law.

For most of his career, Brooks was a favorite college professor at Danville Community College, where he taught criminal law, political science and history, and served on numerous committees. He was also an adjunct faculty member at Averett University, teaching business law and comparative government. Brooks gave his all to his students and coworkers, and they have expressed to the family how important he was in their lives.

From his hometown of Danville, Brooks enjoyed a very active life. As his mother was one of its first female members, Brooks grew up spending time and playing golf at the Danville Golf Club, and its community was always an important part of his life. He served two terms on its board of directors and two terms as its president. He was the founder of Landmark Properties with interests in community development and local and state politics. He served on the Governor’s Highway Safety Commission and the Executive Committee to elect Mills Godwin as Governor of Virginia. He spent decades guiding and mentoring members of the Danville Police Department and served as a board member of Doves Domestic Violence Shelter.

Brooks was one of those characters who helps to weave the fabric of a community. There was always a funny story to be told, a political action to consider and to push forward, an opportunity to be seized, a good deed to be done, a person to be helped, and a friend to be made. This was true for both his beloved hometown of Danville, and his retirement home of Bald Head Island.

On the island, he was active as a volunteer with the emergency services department, often rising in the middle of the night to ferry the sick and injured to the hospital on the mainland. In a local article written about his service to others, he was named the “Spirit of Bald Head Island.” Locals referred to him as the island’s unofficial mayor, as he was always showing up with a smile on his face and inviting someone to sit down and to join the conversation.

In 1955, Brooks lost his left arm in a gunfire accident. He chose to live life through his abilities and opportunities as opposed to focusing on what others might have seen as a disability, and encouraged others to do the same. He was a true optimist who led his life and others with an unspoken drive to make the best of any situation. Brooks would often say, “If this is the worst thing that ever happens to you, you’re going to be all right.”

A funeral was held Thursday, Aug. 17, at the Village Chapel on Bald Head Island with the Rev. Dr. Garrett Albertson officiating. A reception followed the service at the Bald Head Island Association Center. A private graveside service was held Monday, Aug. 21, at Green Hill Cemetery. A gathering of friends met from at the Danville Golf Club in Danville, Va., with a moment taken at 6 p.m. to celebrate his life.

In lieu of flowers, Brooks asked that donations be made to the Bald Head Island Public Safety Auxiliary, P.O. Box 3009, Bald Head Island, NC 28461; or Mount Vernon United Methodist Church, 107 W. Main St., Danville, VA 24541.

Online condolences may be made at

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