It is with great sadness we announce the death of Richard “Rick” Powell of Athabasca at the age of 73. Rick passed peacefully at the Athabasca Health Centre surrounded by family. He is survived by his wife of 50 years Colleen, and children David (Tracy) and Megan (Chris). Rick is predeceased by his parents Vick and Dorothy, and younger brother Ken.
Rick was born on June 9th, 1949 in Toronto, and spent his formative years in Brantford, Ontario. He earned first his Bachelor’s and then Master’s of Political Science at the University of Waterloo, where he met Colleen. The two of them embarked on a tour of west Africa before Rick was hired by the Open University UK, starting his career in distance education. From there he was hired as an Aid Worker in Lesotho in southern Africa. They then returned to Canada in 1979 where Rick continued his career as a researcher with the Canadian Institute for Research and then the Government of Alberta.
It was in 1985 when Rick was hired at the recently relocated Athabasca University as a researcher, where he worked until his retirement in 2010. Rick’s career at AU was distinguished, where he won several awards for his academic publishing, and was instrumental to developing our modern understanding of how AU functions.
Rick was a brilliant thinker of great integrity and endlessly kind. Again and again, he stuck to his values and his sense of what was right, often when it would have been easier not to. His life was defined by his various passions such as playing bridge with his friends, creating recipes, progressive politics, tennis, statistics, and “Nordic noir” mystery dramas. He was a devoted fan of folk and rock from the 70s, such as Pentangle and Cream. He also notably loved animals; his departed companion Wiley, and his four grand-dogs.
His family is heartbroken and will miss him dearly. A celebration of life will be held in Athabasca, date to be determined.
We would like to send special thanks to the compassionate, kind, and exceptional health care workers at the Athabasca Health Centre.