CONCORD- Susan Leanne Powell, 51, died at 6:09 p.m., July 20, 2019, at Atrium Health Care’s main facility in Charlotte. As an organ donor, her death saved three people’s lives across the state of North Carolina.
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A memorial service will be held Saturday, July 27, at 11 a.m. at Whiskey Prison, 130 Dutch Road, Mt. Pleasant, NC. The family requests that friends who want to attend this tribute to Leanne email email@example.com for planning purposes.
Powell was president and chief executive officer of Southern Grace Distilleries, which operates Whiskey Prison in the former Cabarrus Correctional Facility in Mt. Pleasant. She was very proud of her brainchild, which is steadily becoming a major tourist attraction in Cabarrus County. The distillery produces fine bourbon and corn whiskeys that have won numerous awards and accolades. In 2018, the Cabarrus Convention and Visitors Bureau awarded her the Golden Helmet Hometown Hero Award for her contribution to the local tourism economy. Last week Gov. Roy Cooper inducted her into the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. This is the highest award the governor can bestow on a citizen. Leanne was recognized for over 30 years of public service to the State of North Carolina. Her work as an entrepreneur and public servant contributed to the honor, as well as her volunteer activities and the many ways she helped others.
Leanne was in local, state, and federal politics more than three decades. She worked for the late U.S. Rep. Bill Hefner, volunteering in a campaign when she was only 12 years old. The congressman once introduced her at a fund-raising event saying, “This is Leanne Powell, 25, with 20 years of political service.” During the Clinton administration, she was a sworn commissioned officer of the executive branch of the United States of America. She consulted for and/or chaired dozens of political campaigns, including that of former U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell. She was his chief of staff for the two terms he served in office. It was after Kissell was unseated that she decided to start a distillery, as she frequently joked, “to make an honest living.”
Leanne will be remembered for her remarkable knack for making things happen and getting things done. From political to business to personal interactions, there was always a whirlwind of activity around her. But she will be primarily remembered for her kindness. Her home was open to everyone. She frequently took in people who had nowhere to go – gave them shelter in her house, found some of them jobs, and generally shepherded those friends back on their feet. She was the ultimate party hostess, set to entertain for any occasion. Her guests would be many and diverse, from all walks of life, all races, from judges and political VIPS to homeless people temporarily down on their luck. Holidays were always an open house, which was particularly meaningful to her friends who don’t have much family in the area.
Her kindness developed very early as she served as an advocate for her younger brother, Chip, who is high-functioning on the autism spectrum. She would never abide him being bullied, and from there grew her passion to show kindness to all, especially the underdog.
She leaves behind many to mourn her loss. In addition to her brother, Albert “Chip” Powell Jr.; she is survived by her husband, Drew Arrowood; her mother Judy M. McCord; stepmother, Renda Powell; her aunts, Jane Moulton and Ann Kiser; and many cousins and extended family. She was preceded in death by her father, Albert “Al” Powell Sr. In addition to family and friends, she is also survived by her beloved “Distillery Dog,” Bleu Arrowood-Koenning. The pet has his own Facebook account. Follow him at https://www.facebook.com/bleuthedistillerydog/. She will also be missed by Central Cabarrus High School Class of 1986.
Her family would like to thank Leanne’s dear friends, Georgia Lozier and DeAnne Hobbs for the invaluable ways they have helped through this trying time, as well as the staff of the Atrium Health Care Neuro-ICU unit, especially Dr. Cheryl Weyers and her husband, Dr. Billy Sumner, for their respectful and loving care.
Causes dear to Leanne’s heart were anything to do with helping U.S. military veterans, animal rescue societies, and supporting small businesses. Flowers are appreciated, especially flowering shrubs that can be replanted on the grounds of Whiskey Prison.