Funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, January 26, 2013, at New Life Church in Cleveland with Bishop Roderick Mitchell officiating. Burial will follow in Westlawn Memorial Gardens in Cleveland.
Visitation will be from 1-6 p.m. Friday, January 25, 2013, at W.S. Brandon Mortuary in Cleveland followed by family hour from 6-8 p.m. and from 10-11 a.m. Saturday prior to the service at the church.
Sank Jr. was the second son of sharecroppers, Sank Sr. and Sally Lott Powe. He was born in Elizabeth on April 20, 1942. Determined to escape the Mississippi Delta cotton fields and shotgun shacks of his childhood and youth, Sank Powe was nurtured and supported by the kind son of a plantation owner, Clay Rayner. With this encouragement and support, Sank attended college at Jackson State in Jackson, graduating in 1964 with a degree in social science and health physical education & recreation.
He was an All-Conference catcher while in college and was scouted by the St. Louis Cardinals who sent him all the way through try-outs to the spring camp in St. Petersburg, Fla.
After hurting his arm, Sank returned home to teach, coach and eventually scout for both the Cardinals and the Cincinnati Reds.
Employed by the segregated Cleveland public school system, Sank was one of the black teachers chosen by the administration to transfer to the all-white Cleveland High when the schools were integrated in the fall of 1970.
Caught in a “no-man’s land,” Sank mustered his courage and resiliently tackled his job with good humor and dedication. Within two years his integrated CHS baseball team had won the state championship, and within seven years he was named Mississippi Baseball Coach of the Year. His success in coaching, teaching and counseling has brought him considerable praise from students, parents and others, both black and white.
In 1990, the Cleveland School Board named the CHS Baseball field for him, Sank Powe Field, and in 1993 he was named Master Coach of the Year, a national award presented in Los Angeles at the American Baseball Coaches Association convention, by Easton Sports and COLLEGIATE BASEBALL magazine.
Retiring from education in 1995, Sank continued to work part-time for the Cleveland Park Commission, and carried out the creed of his Coach Powe Community Foundation, Inc. (www.coachpowefoundation.com) by “Lifting Up Young Lives in the Delta.”
He was a member of Wanderer’s Home Church in Mound Bayou, now led by Reverend Willie Jackson.
He is preceded in death by his parents, his oldest brother Emanuel (Nora) Powe of Palo Alto, Calif., his youngest brother, Alvin Powe of Chicago, Ill., and his devoted and loving wife, Rebecca Flakes Powe of Cleveland, and his first wife, Seretha Weston of Clarksdale.
He leaves in the bleachers to cherish his memories two loving sisters, Dorothy Powe of Chicago, Ill., and Mary “Sweet” Williams of Chicago, Ill.; two daughters by birth, Veronika (Manuel) Powe-Wilson of Jackson and Calandra (Calvin) Owten of Clarksdale; two daughters by heart-felt adoption, Rita Liggins of Detroit, Mich., and Maya Camille Richard of Cleveland; two grandsons, Tyvaurus Antione Owten and Calvin Cordarius Owten of Clarksdale; a host of brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends across the Mississippi Delta and beyond.