Condolences poured in from across North America after word broke that cartoonist Dwane Powell finally succumbed to the cancer he's been battling for years. Dwane died peacefully at home on Sunday, April 14. He and his wife Jan had just celebrated their 48th anniversary a few days before.
Close family friend Ann Telnaes posted, "Dwane Powell was what an editorial cartoonist should be—fearless, funny, and passionate about shining a light on injustice. He was also my favorite cartoonist buddy. He will be missed by his readers and colleagues."
A remembrance of Dwane ran the next day in his long-time Raleigh newspaper The News & Observer: https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article229034069.html?cid=DM14869&bid=176555357
"Powell liked to test the boundaries with his editors. In the mid-1990s, former N&O editor Steve Riley recalled, when the News & Observer had been covering environmental problems in the ballooning hog industry, Powell came up with a cartoon of then-Gov. Jim Hunt as the Little Dutch Boy using his finger to hold back the flood. Only, it was hog effluent that threatened to overflow, and the orifice was on the hog, not in a dike.
"That version didn’t get published," Riley said.
Ned Barnett at the Charlotte Observer noted Dwane was "an artist, both comic and righteous."
Jim Jenkins, recently retired after a long career as an N&O editorial writer and columnist, said, “Dwane had the soul of a poet and the heart of a lion and when you combine that with the righteous indignation of someone who believed his job was to stand up for people who were the victims of injustice or discrimination — look out. Dwane was fortunate to have an organization behind him that stood for those same values, but he wasn’t afraid to step out and lead the charge for a cause in which he believed.”
Blogger Mike Peterson wrote, "I’ll miss his gentle fury in my morning perusal of commentary, and I’ll miss simply knowing that he and I were mutual fans."
Clay Jones posted, "Dwane was my friend and that makes me special….and not so much. He was every cartoonist's friend and a great friend at that. If you're a political cartoonist and you didn't have a friendship with Dwane Powell, I'd doubt you were actually in this business."
Jones added, "On top of all that, Dwane was a great cartoonist and a legendary journalist for North Carolina. I'm glad he was the first winner of the Rex Babin Award, which is given for cartoons on local issues. There was not a more deserving winner."
Fellow North Carolinian David Cohen said, "He was one of the first nationally known cartoonists who accepted me as one of the "tribe", and his big heart and enormous skill made me feel like I knew what I was doing and was good at it."
"He was humble, funny as hell, and was a gifted guitar player," wrote Ed Hall. "I liked that he was a southern boy like myself, raised on local southern politics and able to charm with his boyish grin, all while piercing to the point with his pen."
John Branch noted Dwane was a huge supporter of other cartoonists, and cited his influence early in Branch's career in a long facebook post: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2207969465908765&set=a.139792616059804&type=3&theater
Bob Englehart recalled his support after he didn't win the Pulitzer: "Dwane Powell called me in March, 1980, to tell me I was the sole nominee for the Pulitzer Prize that year. He said his editor was on the jury and I was the only name they put forward to the committee. What happened next revealed the corruption of the Pulitzers and changed my attitude about awards for the rest of my career."
Peter Dunalp-Shohl wrote "One of the things I haven’t seen much mention of was Dwane, the world traveler. He is one of the few people I ever met who had been to Burma aka Myanmar. He came with Jan to Alaska, nine or ten years ago, inspired by the fact that his father had served in the Aleutian Islands."
Dwane spent a lot of time in Canada visiting friend Bruce MacKinnon. MacKinnon posted "The night I met US cartoonist Dwane Powell I was at the hospitality suite at a US cartoonists conference about 20 years back. Dwane walked in wearing a big smile and a loud shirt with guitars printed all over it. That started a conversation, then a jam, then a close friendship.
"Dwane was a renaissance man. An intensely thoughtful individual with an innate curiosity about everything, he was an athlete, a multi-instrumentalist musician and a much loved political cartoonist." Dwane not only had a lot of friends, he had a lot of extremely close friends, a testament to his relentlessly good nature. He could make the sun shine through the pouring rain."
A celebration of life, open to the public, will be held at the City of Raleigh Museum on Friday, April 19 from 4:30-6:30pm with time for prepared remarks from anyone who would like to share at 6pm. There will be a separate, private gathering by invitation at a later date.
The Raleigh Museum also announced that they were extending the run of the Dwane Powell exhibit until 2020.