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Northwestern friends pay tribute to Hecky Powell

Friends and admirers pass his home to support his family, say farewells

Hundreds of admirers paid their respects to Hecky Powell May 24 in a drive-by visit to his Evanston home to surprise and support his family, say their farewells and spread his love and generosity in the tragic time of COVID-19.

Many of Powell’s Northwestern University friends and supporters were in the procession, while others sent tributes from afar.

Related: Restaurateur Hecky Powell, community leader, mentor, champion for the disadvantaged, passes

With Evanston police in masks directing traffic, about 200 cars and SUVs lined up at the Evanston Civic Center and then moved in a steady procession past his house. There, Powell’s wife, Cheryl Judice, sat in a chair on their front walk, with several of his children, greeting and waving thanks to the passing well-wishers. The procession was so long it took nearly 40 minutes to pass by.

“I think this is just wonderful,” Judice told a TV reporter. “Thank you. Thank you so much.”

Neighbors and other admirers on foot, most wearing masks and trying to keep socially distant due to the pandemic, also passed by or stood at a distance to watch, many of them carrying signs of affection for Powell, who died Friday. Drivers honked their horns and Northwestern University police cruisers sounded their sirens.

Renee Black, 55, who is married to Powell’s nephew, stood through the sun roof in her car and took photos of the lineup of vehicles in front of the Civic Center before the procession started. She remembered how her uncle served as her husband’s best man at their wedding, and she spoke of Powell’s generosity.

“If he could help somebody as he passed along this way, then his life was not in vain,” she said. “And he helped a lot of people. Gender was never an issue with Hecky, nor was race or religion. It didn’t matter who you were. If he could help you, he did.”