The Loop

Franco Harris: 'Mr. Powell was a game-changer'

January 06, 2010

More than 200 people came to pay tribute to William Powell at Minerva United Methodist Church in Minerva, Ohio, on Wednesday morning, among them Pittsburgh Steelers' great Franco Harris.

"Mr. Powell was a game-changer,'' Harris said, according to this Akron Beacon Journal report. ''He was someone who creates that big difference in that certain time in the game or in life. Even though you might not know them and might not see it happening, they are there when we need it. They make a difference in people's lives.

''And when people asked me where I played golf, I always said I played at Bill Powell's Clearview Golf Course. Bill Powell the game-changer has passed, but because of him the game has changed forever.''

Powell was the first African-American to design, build and operate a golf course in the U.S., Clearview, in East Canton, Ohio. Powell died on New Year's Eve following a stroke he had suffered a few days earlier. He was 93.

Joe Steranka, CEO of the PGA of America, was among the speakers and likened him to the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"'I called him Dr. P because he was a doctor of people, doctor of equality, doctor of golf. And golf is healthy now because of this doctor,'' Steranka said. ''He has had such an impact that I put Dr. P in a class with other greats such as Dr. Martin Luther King.''

-- John Strege