By all accounts, local business leader Cliff Powell was a man who took to heart the Gospel charge to love one another, finding creative solutions that helped the community he loved.
Powell, 57, owner and operator of Super Gallo Mercado and Green-Go Check Cashing with wife, Kari, died Feb. 9 in Jacksonville after a long illness.
“From what I know, Cliff was a very benevolent, caring, compassionate employer,” said Jana Humphrey, who met the Powells more than a decade ago in a Sunday school class in Tyler.
“I think he was always concerned about the well-being of the people who worked for him – and what I'm hearing from others, especially since his passing, Cliff did so many things anonymously to help people. He and his wife would see a need, and they would respond. He had a very generous heart,” she said.
Bonnie Barringer, who first started working with Powell 24 years ago as a secretary at Powell Plant Farm, recalled how her boss – then vice president of the operation – took note of a lack of services directed toward the large Hispanic population working for the plant farm.
“Most of them were Hispanic, so he and Kari started Super Gallo and Green-Go because they knew there was a need not being met in the Hispanic community,” Barringer said. “This is why they started these businesses, to assist the community, as well as the growing number of Hispanics.”
Powell led by example, inspiring his employees to serve the community through projects like People Helping People, a holiday food sales project at the grocery store that helped raise funds to create food baskets for families in need.
“These were the kinds of things he and his wife were behind, but he didn't want any praise – he said that all praise went to the Lord, because they felt blessed in what they had and they wanted to give back,” Barringer said. “He was the type of man who just went out and got things done.”
As a result, his business family became as dear as his own, she noted.
“He was a close friend to all his employees, and even through his sickness, he wanted them to know how much he appreciated them and their support,” she said. “I don't know an employee here who doesn't love him and Kari. They're good people. Their commitment to their business and to the people that work there is very important to them.”
Barringer, who serves as office manager for the check-cashing store and does the books for the grocery store, said Powell's widow has reassured employees that for the time being, “right now, it's business as usual.”
Humphrey said Powell's loss “makes a big impact,” not just among their friends, but in the Jacksonville business community.
“He was so heavily invested in Jacksonville, and I think he really cared deeply about the community itself – the educational system, the businesses there,” she said. “I think he really loved that community and poured himself into it. Cliff is a man who loves God, who loves people, and I think when you lose anybody like that, it makes a big impact.”
Visitation will be held from 9:30-11 a.m. today at Central Baptist Church in Jacksonville.
Funeral services follow at 11 a.m. at the church, with Reverends Bryan Grant, David Butler, Vernon Lee, Darin Wood and Dale Jamerson officiating.
Powell is survived by his parents Billy and Ada Ruth Powell of New Summerfield; his wife, Kari; their children Jason Powell, Brandon Powell, Jordan Powell, John Hord, Cortney Holman and Kelsi Templeton; and nine grandchildren.