Friends plan gathering to celebrate life of Powell

The spirit of Billy Powell will be celebrated on Saturday, Oct. 4, in Bethany Beach. Powell, a 1972 graduate of Indian River High School in Frankford, and a past Bethany Beach lifeguard and captain, died of melanoma in September 1983 at the age of 28.

Coastal Point • Submitted: Billy Powell, above, on top of a lifeguard stand at the beach. Below, Powell (center) with fellow lifeguards.Coastal Point • Submitted
Billy Powell, above, on top of a lifeguard stand at the beach. Below, Powell (center) with fellow lifeguards.

Old friends of Powell — Steve Parsons and Lee Bunting — remember him as a life-of-the-party type of guy and a real joy to be around.

“He was a genuine character,” said Parsons. “Whenever us guys would get together, always something would come up about “B.P.,” as we called him. We kind of thought it would be fitting to have a memorial.”

Bunting also remembered the “Billy Powell stories” and reminisced about good times with Powell.

“Billy touched a lot of people’s lives,” he said. “He was a very special friend, a free spirit and somebody you could never forget. He impacted people’s lives in a positive way. And whenever we get together, we tell Billy Powell stories and share pictures. And we want to remember that spirit that he had and keep it alive.”

Bunting shared that whenever somebody was feeling low or having a bad day, Powell would say he would “give them a spirit lesson” and would always have a way to cheer people up and get them going and back looking on the bright side.

“And we want to continue that feeling,” he said. “There’s not a month that goes by that I don’t think about him. He was such an unforgettable person.”

Parsons shared the same sentiments and added that the fact that they still share stories tells so much about Powell’s spirit and legacy.

“If I’m dead and gone, and people are still talking about me, I’d take that as a compliment,” he joked.

Powell died of melanoma on Sept. 15, 1983, shortly after being diagnosed with the disease. He was a 1972 graduate of Indian River High School was a past captain of the Bethany Beach Patrol.

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that occurs in the cells that color the skin and make moles (melanocytes). It is the most serious type of skin cancer because it can spread to lymph nodes or a distant site. It has a near-100 percent survival rate if caught in the earliest stages, but of all the types of skin cancers, melanoma is known to be the most deadly if missed in those early stages.

Approximately 60,000 people will be diagnosed this year with invasive melanoma and 8,100 will die this year from melanoma. According to the Melanoma Research Foundation, people of all ages, all races, all economic levels and both sexes are stricken. Melanoma represents 5 percent of all skin cancers, but 71 percent of all skin cancer deaths. Melanoma occurs in all age groups, including children, and the number of new melanomas diagnosed in the U.S. is increasing.

The 25-year memorial remembrance for Billy Powell will be held at 84 Atlantic Avenue in Bethany Beach at the Good E’Nuf beach cottage. Anyone who is interested in attending is being asked to contact Steve Parsons at (302) 539-2222 or Lee Bunting at (610) 842-5969.