Norman E. Powell was a high performer in both his pressure-cooker job as tax and real estate attorney, and as a talented musician who led an eponymous orchestra as a young man.
But the lawyer who wowed audiences with fine music in local nursing homes in recent years, and impressed colleagues and clients over five decades of practice, became one of thousands of area residents to die from the coronavirus.
Powell, of Plainview, died on March 27 in Plainview Hospital, said his daughter, Allison Powell of Manhattan. The Brooklyn native was 78.
“My father was a bright guy and he had an encyclopedic knowledge,” Allison Powell said, adding that he seemed equally passionate about music as he was about the law, which he practiced until his death. “He loved work. It kept him going.”
Born April 25, 1941, Norman Powell was the son of Russian immigrants and grew up in Brighton Beach. He graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn.
Even at an early age, he was a multitasker — using the time at Lincoln to study music at the prestigious Juilliard School on weekends to master piano. He also played accordion and clarinet with considerable skill.
Powell then attended New York University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree and began working for brokerage and accounting firms. Ever a juggler of tasks, he simultaneously earned a degree at Brooklyn Law School at night. He would also be awarded a master of business administration degree from Pace University.
Powell also squeezed in becoming a medic in the Army Reserves.
His career path took him to small and mid-size companies such as Josephthal & Co. Inc., Grant Thornton LLP and Graf Repetti & Co. LLP, but he also was a solo practitioner and never retired.
His musical talents took a parallel track and matured even after they lured him to his wife, the former Barbara Berkowitz, then of Astoria. She met Powell in 1965 while the Norman Powell Orchestra was performing near the Laurels Hotel in the Catskills as she vacationed with her parents.
The young couple married July 3, 1966, settled in Flushing and had children — Jeffrey, now of Edgemont, and then Allison — before moving to Plainview in 1978. They were married for 53 years.
Family members noted that Powell was a staple at his children’s and grandchildren’s graduations, dance recitals, concerts and sporting events, most often with a video camera to document the memories.
“He always had a video recorder in his hand, and he would narrate,” Allison Powell said. “No one would ever want to be filmed and we didn’t watch them. Maybe we will now.”
Besides his wife, daughter and son, Powell is survived by a sister, Evelyn Berke, of Tamarac, Florida, three grandchildren, and nieces and nephews.
A graveside service was held at Old Montefiore Cemetery in Queens on March 29.