Dwane Powell, RIP

I was fortunate to be able to call Dwane Powell my friend. He died last night.

The News & Observer, where he was an editorial cartoonist and a vital part of that paper’s personality for decades, has a nice obituary. Read it.

I met him in 1982 at the N&O. He was funny and smart and charming. I wish I had all of the caricatures he drew of me on napkins and envelope backs and scrap paper. Dark eyes. Heavy eyebrows. Nailed it. I wasn’t special; he drew everyone. But he made me feel special, and for a young reporter, that was everything.

Steve Riley points out in the obit that Dwane would often wander into the newsroom right before deadline with a cartoon concept in hand, put it in front of you and ask if it works. Most times, it did. Here are dozens of his cartoons.

A meeting of the Immoral Minority. Dwane is waving. Courtesy of Sally Bruner Johns

He and his wife, Jan, were original members of the Immoral Minority, a dinner group that eight of us pulled together, giving us an excuse to go out to dinner once a month, drink too much and tell stories. (It was a play on the Moral Majority.) I still have a few of the Immoral Minority pins his wife, Jan, created for us. Most memorable is the time we got kicked out of a greek restaurant. I’ll keep that one among the remaining seven of us.

My favorite Dwane story isn’t funny at all. My mother loved his cartoons. She often told me how he nailed an issue. One time, at a N.C. Press Awards dinner, I introduced her to him. He sat and talked with her for 15 or 20 minutes, acting as if she was the only person there, ignoring the hundreds of journalists and others who milled around them. Then, after I left the paper, whenever we ran into each other, he would ask about her every single time.

The world is worse off today.

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