I write once, twice, or a few times a month to The Jackson List, a private, now very large and ever-growing email list, about U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson and related topics.
One result, unexpected at first and now a great pleasure, is that people respond to Jackson List posts by emailing back to me. Sometimes they just send thanks. Other notes are more substantive, sometimes very personal and erudite.
Through these notes, which I try to read and at least to acknowledge (although the volume can be daunting), I’ve made a lot of special “friends”—not in-person friends, but the electronic version of what once were pen pals.
Earlier this week, an email bounce message alerted me that the email address of Walter V. Powell, long a Jackson List subscriber and one who wrote back to me regularly, was no longer functional. By Googling, I learned that Walt Powell, professor emeritus of political science at Slippery Rock University in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, age 90, died on February 27, 2019.
Dr. Powell lived a long and accomplished life. Some of it, including his family life, his World War II military service, his education, his teaching, and his community commitments, is chronicled in this obituary.
In his emails to me, Walt Powell always sent thanks for Jackson List posts and expressed his particular interests. One was the World War II—his—generation, including particularly people who had served on Justice Jackson’s staff prosecuting Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg in 1945-46.
Walt Powell greatly admired one of them, Whitney R. Harris. Indeed, Walt got to know Whitney through hosting him as the keynote speaker at a Slippery Rock University conference on the Nuremberg trial. Later, Walt lamented Whitney’s failing health, then his death, and Walt remembered Whitney always. Walt also wrote to me when “Nurembergers” Richard Sonnenfeldt, Peter Calvocoressi, Arno Hamburger, and Ernest Michel each passed away. Walt reported to that he had used some of my writings on Nuremberg when he lectured in a class on war crimes, and that he had visited the Robert H. Jackson Center in Jamestown, New York.
Walt also, every holiday season, sent his greetings, thanks, and good wishes.
This post, in a small way, reciprocates that sentiment. I am grateful that we were, in our historical studies, biographical interests, and priorities, truly colleagues.