Hecky Powell – Passing “The Sauce”
A few weeks ago, I read Steven Garber’s The Seamless Life, where he writes about the University of California, Berkeley, and the school’s founding in the 19th century.
I was unaware that the name for the city and the University owes its origin to Irish Bishop George Berkeley (1685-1753), who was both an Anglican bishop and an Enlightenment philosopher, widely read mid-20th century for his theories of immaterialism.
Bishop Berkeley pondered the perennial questions regarding the purpose and meaning of life, what matters most for human flourishing, and how each of us must live to make our corner of the world a better place: Each must live with common grace for the common good.
Great movements, institutions, and lives do not begin with an individual’s own desires for fame and wealth. Instead, such changes and accomplishments rise from a substantial, socially engaged desire to add value and make a difference in the lives of those around us.
Bringing our story home from Berkeley to Evanston, I am pleased to share today’s article with Rosemary Mauck, my friend, and fellow Elder at First Pres. She illustrates for us the life of Mr. Hecky Powell, a man who lived with and thrived in the challenge of the same questions and concerns as did Bishop Berkeley.
I hope to see you online this Sunday!
Reflections on Hecky Powell
I’ve known the Powell family for almost 40 years.
As many Evanstonians know, Hecky Powell — husband, dad, grandfather, son, cousin, uncle, mentor, businessman, philanthropist, community leader, friend to many, and much more — passed away on May 22, 2020, from complications of COVID-19. In his life, he embodied the essential values of family and community, and, from these, his actions produced blessings for many over many years.
As I think about Hecky, one of the thoughts that linger is his consistency of action and his uniting of these strong life-affirming principles of family and community into his life and the lives of others. I saw no separation between how he ran his business and how he impacted and helped people everywhere.
His parents, Forrest and Verna, poured their love and wisdom into him, and he, in turn, has blessed so many with the same gifts. As a businessman, he surely understood the power of marketing — “It’s the Sauce!” is a slogan that brands Hecky’s Barbecue far and wide. Still, his very successful business also became an avenue for many young people to learn some of the basics of business, the benefits of hard work, and the opportunities that are there for us to recognize and build on. Hecky brought his knowledge and love and beneficence to the broader community through many of his other outreach activities and through the Forrest E. Powell Foundation. The positive results of his actions are immeasurable, here in Evanston and all over the world, as recent obits in the New York Times and NBC Today clearly affirm.
I know one person, my son Andrew, who was deeply touched by Hecky. Andrew said:
“I remember my first task working for Hecky as a teenager: he walked me up to a tall stack of dishes, and said, have at it. And I did! Working for Hecky that summer taught me a lot about this world — you can’t avoid hard work if you want to provide for yourself and those you love; customers want ‘consistency’ more than anything else and, finally, ‘It’s The Sauce!’ It took me years to realize the double meaning of their catch phase — yes, their BBQ sauce made their food stand out, but he was also telling us to find what makes you unique and be bold about it.”
There have been many tributes written for Mr. Hecky Powell. My comments are through my personal lens of knowing him and his wife, Cheryl Judice, and yet there is so much more. As I have thought about this man and his tremendous impact in the community, this scripture comes to mind:
1 Peter 3:8: Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.
I saw in Hecky a confluence of unity, sympathy, love, compassion, and humility — lofty aspirations for all of us. For him, it was the way he lived.
I am glad and eternally thankful to have known him.