Lane Powell, instructor, administrator, and champion of family-life education, has died of pancreatic cancer. With her bubbly personality and booming Southern-accented voice, she was an unforgettable figure.
Lane received her Ph.D. in 1984 at Texas Tech, with a dissertation entitled “Evaluation of a church-based sexuality program for adolescents.” This research was published a year later in the journal Family Relations, with committee-chair Steve Jorgensen as co-author (Powell & Jorgensen, 1985). Lane then followed a sequence that would take her to Birmingham, Alabama, back to Lubbock, and then back to Birmingham.
In 2007, Lane received the Meritorious Service to Families Award from the National Council on Family Relations, the leading professional society in the family-studies discipline. The university’s article on Lane’s award captured much of her career:
Powell was honored for her work as department chair at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., where she developed the Human Development and Family Studies academic program and oversaw the construction of the Children’s Research and Development Center there from 1985-1999. Powell was also cited for her authorship of the first undergraduate textbook in Family Life Education and for her work as a group facilitator couple along with her husband [Bob] in the Association for Couples in Marriage Enrichment for more than 25 years.
Now in her 10th year as a faculty member at Texas Tech, Powell continues to build on her work at Samford University. She has been an advisor to the Texas Tech Council on Family Relations, which has won awards as a student professional affiliate, for seven years and she is also the certification advisor for the Certified Family Life Educator Program and a career advising specialist.
During Lane’s second stint at Texas Tech (approximately 1999-2013), she taught courses in HDFS and served in an administrative role created specially for her by then-Department Chair Dean Busby, namely Assistant Department Chair to work with the HDFS Associate Chair.
As noted above, Lane and her husband Bob were active in marriage-enrichment education. Part of this involved leading workshops for couples. In addition, Lane and Bob were highly sought-after guests in HDFS courses. Dr. Sylvia Niehuis regularly invited Lane and Bob to speak in her course on Partnering: The Development of Intimate Relationships (HDFS 2322). Lane and Bob would discuss their own marriage, as well as offer insights on healthy marriages.
“The students loved them,” said Dr. Niehuis. “They adored them, and so did I.”
If one goes to the website of the local newspaper, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, and types “Lane Powell” (with quotation marks) into the search field, one will find 41 archived articles detailing her extensive educational contributions and community involvement. Lane and Bob were also ardent fans of Lady Raiders basketball.
Ultimately, Lane and Bob moved back to Birmingham in retirement, which included international travel, time spent with their children and grandchildren, and continued attendance by Lane at the annual NCFR conference (most recently in 2015 in Vancouver).
Lane and Bob’s daughter Sharon Powell, a Ph.D. recipient from the University of Minnesota, continues to carry the torch for family education and outreach.