Aug. 14, 1939 — May 20, 2020
Robert Powell, DVM, loved animals — and every day of his 80 years, animals loved him back.
Bob was born in Grass Valley, Calif. in August 1939 to Delbert and Alma Powell. He had a happy childhood with his brothers William (Bill) and Delbert Jr. (Bud) and their border collie, Boots. While raising pigeons and living with dogs, cats, and parakeets, Bob knew early on that he wanted to be a veterinarian. The family moved to Sacramento, and Bob attended C.K. McClatchy High School, where he made lifelong friends, met his first wife-to-be, Gail, and ran hurdles on CKM’s track and field team.
Bob graduated from McClatchy in 1957, got married, and became a father to his daughter Terri while attending Sacramento City College. He then transferred to the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, where he studied and cared for large and small animals alike. Bob graduated from UC Davis in 1964, and that same year his son, Brian, was born. Bob obtained his veterinary license and worked with his mentor, Robert Mueller, DVM, for seven years.
Once he realized that barking dogs contributed to his migraines, Dr. Powell decided to open a veterinary clinic in Sacramento that exclusively treated cats — one of the first of its kind in the nation. He designed the clinic, had it constructed, and opened Veterinary Practice Limited to Cats (now called River City Cat Clinic) in 1972. Dr. Powell became known for his specialized feline knowledge and his willingness to share techniques with other local veterinarians. He once flew out to a feline leukemia vaccine’s production facility to see how it was made and check their safety records before recommending it to his own patients. Back at the practice, Dr. Powell’s feline patients quickly forgot their worries when his pet pigeon would fly through the clinic and land on his shoulder during appointments. Above all, Dr. Powell encouraged his clients to think about cats not just as mousers, but as members of their family – and cared for thousands of Sacramentans’ best feline friends for nearly three decades.
When not working, Bob loved spending time with his wife, children, and beloved pets. Over the years they had cats, dogs, parakeets, desert tortoises, a cockatoo, a box turtle, and several hives of bees. After he retired with his second wife, Barbara, he trained a blue jay to take peanuts from his hand, got his parakeet Huckleberry to drink Diet Pepsi with him, and later warned visitors to stop ‘spoiling’ his cat when they’d pet his SPCA kitty, Miri.
In 1986, Bob bought a condo on Maui and visited often. He loved walking the beach near Maalaea Bay, watching humpback whales breach in the winter, and snorkeling off the island’s southern coast.
Bob was a lifelong student. While studying astronomy, he spent his nights after work tracking stars and planets across the sky with a five-foot telescope. He belonged to the American Veterinary Medical Association for 57 years, was president of the Sacramento Valley Veterinary Medical Association in 1979, and was a generous member of both Bethany and Faith Presbyterian Churches.
He dearly loved his family and friends and was very proud of his children and grandchildren. Bob kept a positive attitude, even when his health faltered. (At every hospital he visited, Dr. Bob informed doctors and nurses that he was a “real doctor” since he’d learned to practice medicine on multiple species.) He’d joke and laugh with everyone he encountered. Bob’s last days were tranquil, and he left the Earth peacefully in the morning on Wednesday, May 20, 2020, while his cat was curled up next to him.
Bob is survived by his daughter Terri Strack and son Brian Powell; son-in-law Corey and daughter-in-law Delynn; his grandchildren Alex, Jenna (and her husband Tim), Sam, and Ben; his former wives Gail and Barbara; stepfamily, cousins, nieces, and nephews from all over the country; and his cat Miri. He is preceded in death by his father Delbert, mother Alma, brothers Bill and Bud, and all his other treasured pets.
We will announce a memorial service as soon as we can gather in person. As an expression of sympathy, please consider donating to either McClatchy High School’s Track and Field team (please specify Track and Field at www.restoretheroar.org/donate) or the Pacific Whale Foundation at www.pacificwhale.org/you-can-help/make-donation/. Then, do what Bob would have done: have some vanilla ice cream! Two scoops, of course — it’s health food.ShareTweet