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Congressmen pay tribute to San Angelo public servant JoAnne Powell

April 5, 2021

The following tribute to JoAnne Powell was co-authored by Tom Loeffler, Lamar Smith, Mike Conaway and August Pfluger.

On Tuesday, March 30, the Concho Valley will gather to honor the life and legacy of Mrs. JoAnne Powell — a pillar of the San Angelo community and a true example of how to live a life in the service of others.

JoAnne, who passed away Thursday, March 25, impacted thousands of lives during her service to our country and this community, but among those lives she impacted and inspired the most were us — the four Members of Congress who had the absolute honor of serving this district, while working with and learning from Mrs. JoAnne Powell.

Tom Loeffler was the first one to make the easy decision to hire JoAnne to serve in the Congressional Office. He had the privilege of meeting and working with Col. Charles Powell and JoAnne during their time as Base Commander and “First Lady of Goodfellow Air Force Base.” At the time, the base was slated for closure, but through joint efforts between Tom, the Powells, and the generosity and sacrifice of many in the Goodfellow and San Angelo community, the mission was changed to an intelligence training base and the future of Goodfellow was secured.

Upon Charlie’s retirement from the Air Force in 1984, great fortunes were to occur for the people of our congressional district. JoAnne accepted Tom’s offer to manage and operate our San Angelo District Office — the beginning of her new professional endeavor that would continue on through the offices of Lamar Smith, Mike Conaway and August Pfluger.

Through her giving personality, personal dedication and loyalty to the people of San Angelo and West Texas, she quickly became the “First Lady of the 21st Congressional District” (and later the 11th Congressional District).

JoAnne simply set the standard for how to care about and care for people. Her unmatched knowledge of federal issues and how to solve them, coupled with her genuine love for others, made her a mentor for the dozens of staff members who served this district over the course of 35 years. She would go to any length to help anyone in need, often staying late at the office and going in on most weekends.

She had a relentless heart for helping veterans and fostering the relationship between Goodfellow and San Angelo, which helped make this community what it is today.

Beyond the job, Lamar remembers Joanne as a loyal and thoughtful friend who knew no stranger. She mailed birthday, anniversary and Christmas cards and presents by the dozens. She loved to bake and often spoiled us and our staff members with her famous “firecrackers,” peanut butter truffles, cakes and more.

JoAnne’s labor of love in the office was her work with military service academy students. Mike especially recalls how every year, JoAnne would “adopt” and mentor the best and brightest students in the district through the application, nomination and appointment process. Her guidance and hard work led to dozens of students receiving academy appointments. JoAnne kept up with each of them and followed their careers and personal lives.

One of these students would go on to become the last one of us who had the honor of working with JoAnne — August Pfluger. JoAnne helped August receive a nomination from Lamar, and an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy some 26 years ago.

We all have our own unique memories and experiences with JoAnne. Most of all, we all cherish the fantastic example that JoAnne and Colonel Powell set for us as the ultimate marriage partnership. They made an ideal couple, with their mutual appreciation, respect for one another, and shared commitment to serve their community and country together.

JoAnne and Charles have left this community better than they found it. They will be remembered as a couple with unwavering faith, unapologetic patriotism, and a genuine love for others — who made an impact greater than the size of Texas.

We are thankful to have had the absolute privilege and honor of serving this district in Congress, and especially to have worked with our beloved JoAnne Powell. Our hearts ache, but we take comfort in knowing that JoAnne and Charlie are reunited for their final mission. We will continue to challenge ourselves to take the lessons JoAnne and Charlie impressed upon us and do more for others each and every day.