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July 27, 2016 - USA Mourns Loss of Dr. Randall Powell

Randall_Powell.pngDr. Randall Powell, retired professor of surgery and pediatrics at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, passed away on July 25, 2016. He was 70.

“Dr. Powell was a longstanding, dedicated faculty member with a passion for medical care of the pediatric patient,” said Dr. William O. Richards, chair of the USA department of surgery.  “During much of his career at USA, he was either the only pediatric surgeon or one of two pediatric surgeons in our region, caring for some of the most vulnerable patients -- neonates and critically-ill children with surgical diseases.”

Dr. Powell, a native of Richmond, Va., earned his bachelor of science degree from Hampden-Sydney College in Hampden-Sydney, Va., and his medical degree from the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, Va. He completed residency training in general surgery at Naval Hospital in San Diego and his fellowship in pediatric surgery at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

As a pediatric surgeon, Dr. Powell belonged to a very small group of surgeons who trained beyond general surgery residency in order to care for neonates and children with all the complex congenital defects and the different physiology of the growing child.  When he trained as a pediatric surgeon there were only 24 programs in the United States that trained pediatric surgeons.

Prior to joining USA in 1984 as assistant professor of surgery and pediatrics, Dr. Powell served at Northwestern University Medical School, Naval Hospital in San Diego, and University of California San Diego School of Medicine in San Diego. In 1991, Dr. Powell was promoted to professor of surgery and pediatrics at the USA College of Medicine and served in that role until his retirement in 2009.

Dr. Powell was exceptionally bright, as evidenced by his election to Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society and his encyclopedic knowledge of surgical history and techniques. He was equally passionate about the care of pediatric patients and the training of surgical residents.  He expected and demanded excellence in all aspects of patient care.

A true academician, Dr. Powell was an advocate for surgical residents and junior level faculty.  He would write encouraging notes to each chief resident in surgery regarding their training and chosen fellowship or future practice plans. During the last weeks of his life, Dr. Powell began sharing his prized book collection, with many of these books being first editions on pediatric surgery that were signed by the authors.  His legacy is one of the highest academic rigor, intellectual honesty, and never-ending self-reflection on how to be a better physician and surgeon. 

Dr. Powell touched the lives of countless medical students, residents and patients through his work as a faculty member and pediatric surgeon at the USA College of Medicine. Throughout his career, he invested considerable time and effort in the education, mentoring and training of both medical students and residents.

While at USA, Dr. Powell was also director of the division of pediatric surgery and professor of physician assistant studies. He served on numerous committees at USA, including the Resident Evaluation Committee, the Surgical Case Review Committee at USA Medical Center, the USA Faculty Senate, the College of Medicine Admissions Committee, and chairman of the Medical Student Research Committee.

Dr. Powell was a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the American Academy of Pediatrics. He was involved in several professional organizations including the American Pediatric Surgical Association, the Pacific Association of Pediatric Surgeons, the Association for Academic Surgery, the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma, the Eastern Association for Surgery of Trauma, the Southeastern Surgical Congress, the Society of Critical Care Medicine, the Southern Medical Association, and the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States.

Dr. Powell was preceded in death by his parents, Warren Douglas and Lucille Cole Powell. He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Nola Rice Powell; children, Kendall Douglas Powell (Holly) and Julie Powell Edwards (Chris); grandchildren, Silas Bryan-Powell, Jackson Edwards, Bennett Edwards, Ryland Edwards, and Ella Francis Edwards; brother, Kenneth Allen Powell (Deborah); and nieces, nephews and cousins.

A memorial service will be held for Dr. Powell on Friday, July 29, at Dauphin Way United Methodist Church at noon; it will be preceded by a visitation at 11 a.m.  Burial will be private.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Randall W. Powell, M.D., Lectureship in Pediatric Surgery at the USA College of Medicine. Donations can be mailed to Development and Services Building, 300 Alumni Circle, Mobile, AL 36688.

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