In Tribute: Keebler salesman took pride in work, religion

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

Burl Powers of Clovis taught his son plenty of things. There was no shame in doing the same job for decades if it paid the bills. The church and the family were priorities. And you never know when a bear is around the corner.

Wendel Powers of El Paso remembered all of these things about his father, a Clovis native who died Nov. 21.

Born March 15, 1936, in Ada, Okla., Burl Powers first came to Clovis as a teenager to live with his aunt and uncle, Buster and Annie Reed.

In that house he spent most of his time with cousin, Don Reed, and the two rough-housed and did paper routes together. Reed was always close to him, and stayed close because their wives were good friends as well. He remembered Burl having a dry sense of humor and an ability to take on any task without fear.

“Nothing really seemed to faze him a great deal,” Reed said, “and I think that helped him in life.”

That’s the way Wendel remembered his father, who taught work ethic by getting up at 4 a.m. for 35 years to sell Keebler cookies to area grocery stores, and taught him the importance of the Lord by taking him to church every chance he got.

“He loved the Lord, and it was a big part of his life.”

Now it’s a big part of Wendel’s. He’s pastor at Cielo Vista Church, a non-denominational church in El Paso.

Burl Powers moved back to Clovis in 1999.

Wendel’s favorite memories trace back to camping trips Burl would take the family on. There were days getting so dirty they’d have to wash off in the river, and nights with music and unexpected wildlife during a session of “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain” with his dad playing guitar and dozens of relatives around the fire.

“Right about the time they got to the chorus, this black bear came not more than 20 yards away,” Wendel said. ”These 30 people took off like fire ants. It was just on cue.”

It didn’t faze Burl, and it became a running joke.

“He came by two other times the next two nights,” Wendel said. “We said, ‘The bear should be here,’ and there he was.”