School 09

James Curtis Powers

November 22, 1938 ~ August 27, 2020 (age 81)


James Curtis Powers, 81, of Ashland died on Thursday, August 27, 2020 at Community Hospice.

Jim was born in Ashland on November 22, 1938. the youngest child of Warren and Nettie Burke Powers.

He was born on 19th street and later lived on 14th street living his whole life in Ashland within a few blocks of the library.

His earliest job was working as an errand boy at the Lyda Ellis Dress Shoppe at 318 15th Street in the early to mid-1950s.  He was an Ashland High School graduate with the class of 1958.  

From his youth he had a love for books.  His mother often had to call the library to have them "tell Jimmy to come home."  Soon after high school Jim began his lifetime career in the library.  His first job was to affix the library bookplates to the new additions.  Many books in the library collection still hold those plates. 

Jim served his country in the US Army in the early 1960s serving in Uijeongbu, South Korea and later Washington, DC.

He returned to the library and worked his way up through various positions eventually into the reference department.  He earned his bachelor's degree in 1973 from Marshall University.  Soon after he left the library on sabbatical to earn his Masters of Library Science from the University of Kentucky in 1974.

Jim returned to the Library and held positions such as reference supervisor and later resident historian.  It was in mid to late 1997 that he was picked to become the Library Director for the library, retiring in 2002.

Not much Later, Jim returned to the library working part time in the department he loved most...The Genealogy and Local History Department.

Throughout his life he had a love for genealogy, inspiring many to develop a love for finding their own roots.  Jim helped form the Eastern Kentucky Genealogical Society in the late 1970s.  He also worked throughout his library career to build the genealogy collection at the Library, the finest in Eastern Kentucky. He was also a member of the John Howe Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution.

Jim re-retired from the genealogy department in 2019 due to ill-health, but the library never left his mind.  Throughout his career he worked for the library approximately 57 years.  He was honored a few years ago by the Kentucky Legislature for his lifelong service to the library and for preserving the history of Ashland and Boyd County. Jim was on the Ashland City Planning Board as a member and later chairman from 1988 to the present. He became a board member of the Ashland Cemetery board when they took over the cemetery. He also served as Past President of the Friends of the Kentucky Library Archives.

Jim also had a love for art and theatre.  He collected various types of figures and plates from the US and other countries.  He traveled often with the Road Runners club and later enjoyed many cruises both in the Caribbean and in Europe.  He recently took a cruise to Cuba shortly after the U.S. ban on travel was lifted.

Jim was preceded in death by two sisters and a brother, Reba (Tom) Wakefield of Ashland and her infant twin sister Retta and Edward Powers of Ashland.  He was survived by these niece and nephews, Joy Wakefield Montgomery, Cathy Wakefield Smith, Joann Powers Burkey, Warren Powers and Robert Powers 

Services will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, September 5, 2020, at STEEN FUNERAL HOME CENTRAL AVENUE CHAPEL. Visitation will be from 11:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. Saturday, at the funeral home.

A private burial will take place in Ashland Cemetery.

Please make contributions to Community Hospice or The Highlands Museum in lieu of flowers.

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September 5, 2020

11:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Steen Funeral Home - Central Avenue Chapel
1501 Central Avenue
Ashland, KY 41101

Celebration of Life
September 5, 2020

1:00 PM
Steen Central Avenue Chapel, Ashland


Community Hospice
1480 Carter Avenue, Ashland KY 41101

The Highlands Museum and Discovery Center
1620 Winchester Avenue, Ashland KY 41101

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