Martin Powers didn't wait for opportunities; he made them, his older brother says.
Whether it was his first film showing at Hemmens Cultural Center, or the Powers Entertainment group he started to produce and promote film, or the books and screenplays he wrote. Or, perhaps most significantly, the initiative he took as an educator.
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He wanted to share what he had to offer intellectually with his hometown, Dave Powers said. So Marty, as he was known to family and friends, "took on the job of being a teacher of young people because he had an idea of what society should be like."
It was this desire to improve the world, that led him to his 24-year-long teaching post at Kimball Middle School in Elgin. He died of a heart attack at 50 Sunday night in his home not far from his beloved school.
Family, friends, colleagues and former students will be celebrating his life from 3 to 7 p.m. Monday, July 1, at Wait Ross Allanson Funeral and Cremation Services Chapel, 51 Center Street, in downtown Elgin. A service will begin at 4 p.m.
He will be buried in a private ceremony next to his brother Michael Powers, a former Elgin city councilman who died in 2009.
Although he dedicated his life to teaching his students English, Powers further engaged with his community through his passion for film, acting and writing.
Staff members at the Gail Borden Public Library, where he could usually be found, recalled how he was always ready to analyze movies or talk to people about what they were reading.
"He was always good for a conversation," said Sara Sabo, director of public services for the library who knew Powers for 30 years.
Aside from a few favorite eateries, the library was his social spot.
"He was always saying hello to somebody at the library," said Margaret Peebles, director of access services for the library and a longtime friend of Powers.
But the students were his main focus, Sabo and Peebles agreed. Whether he was tutoring, grading papers, or connecting with old and new students, his reputation with the students was very strong, Sabo said.
His brother agreed.
"I've never met someone so engaged with being an artist and being a teacher," Dave Powers said.
But his brother's legacy goes beyond teaching and being an artist -- it's about making his own path, he said.
"Grab the world and run with it and don't wait at all," Dave Powers said. "That's what my brother Martin was all about."