Claude Cullen Powell

August 28, 1949 ~ March 28, 2024 (age 74) 74 Years Old

Claude Cullen Powell Obituary

McDuffie County

Claude Cullen Powell, 74, better known as Coach Powell, passed away peacefully at home on March 28, 2024, after a two-year struggle with ALS. He was the son of Inez and Charlie Powell of Montrose, Georgia.

Mr. Powell was a native of Montrose, Georgia, in Laurens County, and attended Montrose Elementary School and Dudley High School, where he lettered in baseball, basketball, and track. He was President of his Future Farmers of America organization and a member of the Beta Club. He graduated from Middle Georgia College in Cochran, Georgia, in 1969 with an Associate of Science degree in Education. In 1971, he earned the Bachelor of Science degree in Health, Physical Education and Recreation from Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, where he lettered in soccer and baseball.

Powell’s plans to enter the US Air Force after college were not realized due to athletic injuries he had suffered in high school and college. He then sought employment through the Georgia State Department of Education and was hired for the 1971-72 school year by Mr. J.A. Maxwell, former McDuffie County Superintendent of Schools, to teach PE and to coach football and basketball at what was then the R.L. Norris Junior High School on Harrison Road. In 1974 he completed a Master’s Degree in Education, and in 1976 he was transferred to Thomson High School as a PE teacher and coach.

Powell left McDuffie County in 1979 for a brief stint at the Lawton B. Evans Psycho-Educational Center in Richmond County, but returned to McDuffie in 1980 to teach PE at Pine Street Elementary School and to resume his coaching duties at Thomson High School. He coached the secondary teams on the coaching staff that led Thomson to back-to-back State Football Championships in 1984 and 1985, and in 1990 he was named Pine Street’s Teacher of the Year.

Mr. Powell did post-graduate work at Georgia Southern University and completed work on his Specialist Degree in Educational Administration at Augusta State University in 1990. The following year he returned to R. L. Norris after being named Assistant Principal of what had become a middle school. He moved with the Middle School to the old Thomson High School building on Main Street in 1992, and in 2000 was named principal of that school, a position he held until his retirement in 2010. He was named a Georgia High Performance Principal in 2007 and again in 2008 for his leadership in a school where student achievement had shown marked improvement. A year after his retirement, he was named principal of the McDuffie Achievement Center, a position he held for two years. He also served brief stints as interim principal at Norris Elementary, and Thomson High.

Mr. Powell was a member of Sweetwater Baptist Church where he was a past Chairman of the Deacons and had served as Moderator of the Church.

He is survived by Joyce Rawlins Powell, his wife of almost 52 years; two children, Charlie Cullen “Tripp” (Madison) Powell of Myrtle Beach, SC and Darcy Emerson (Grady) Hayes of Augusta; and three grandchildren, Emerson Margaret Powell, and Garrett Cullen Powell of San Diego, California, and Killian Grady Hayes, and his nephew, Joey (Candi) Powell of Dudley, Georgia. . He was preceded in death by his brothers Harry Irvin Powell and Billy Joe Powell of Laurens County.

The family is grateful to the many friends and former students who came to visit from time to time. Special thanks are due to the staff of the ALS Clinic at AUHealth, to the amazing nurses and aides of Pruitt Health Hospice and Palliative Care, to the employees of Savannah River ProHomeCare and to the youth and counselors from Thomson First Methodist's City Serve Program.

A memorial service will be held on Thursday, April 4 at 2:00 pm in the chapel at Beggs Funeral Home in Thomson. The family will greet guests after the service.

Those who wish to honor his memory are encouraged to donate to Team Gleason, an organization which assists those suffering from ALS to get equipment for their care ( or to the American Cancer Society, P. O. Box 6704, Hagerstown, MD  21741; 800-227-2345 or

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Memorial Service
April 4, 2024

2:00 PM
Beggs Funeral Home Chapel
799 Cobbham Rd.
Thomson, Georgia 30824


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