He was widely known for producing beautiful books and for encouraging and supporting his colleagues.
Authors and photographers supplied the words and images for their books, and Will Powers made them look good.
Powers, who was nationally and internationally recognized as a leader in the areas of typography and design, oversaw the production of scores of titles during his long career in the printing and advertising industries. For the past decade, he worked as design and production manager at the Minnesota Historical Society Press in St. Paul, where he gained a reputation for encouraging and supporting colleagues and producing beautiful books, those who knew him said.
"Working with Will Powers is one of the great gifts of my career," said Pamela McClanahan, director of the Minnesota Historical Society Press and Borealis Books.
Powers died after suffering a heart attack Aug. 25 while he was on vacation with his family in Canada. He was 63.
His influence spread to many who knew him through the Association of American University Presses. He was "a force" in that small but tight community as he shared his expertise at conventions, meetings and through e-mail, said Emmy Ezell of the University of Oklahoma Press.
"He taught many of us everything we know about books," said Ezell, who has known Powers for 25 years. "He was gifted and vocal and kind. He was passionate for life and his craft, and he shared everything. He was so encouraging."
Powers began his typography career in the early 1970s after graduating from Wilmington College in Ohio. His first job was at the former Stinehour Press in Vermont, where he supervised the typesetting for high-end limited-edition books. In 1976, his career took him to San Francisco where he worked for Amaranth Press, designed special occasion menus for Alice Waters' famous restaurant, Chez Panisse, and did editorial work for the University of California-Berkeley. While at Fine Point Press, he edited Evan Connell's best-selling book, "Son of the Morning Star: Custer and the Little Bighorn."
Powers made his way to the Twin Cities in 1988 when he became type director for the Campbell Mithun advertising agency. He later joined Stanton Publication Services, now BookMobile, as a designer and producer before he joined the Minnesota Historical Society in 1998.
Powers was a member of the Type Directors' Club in New York City, the Ampersand Club, which is dedicated to fine printing and book arts, and Bookbuilders, a Minnesota consortium of print production professionals. He also was on the board of the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis and taught book design at the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul, his family said in a statement released Thursday.
Powers enjoyed the outdoors and was an avid bicycler, swimmer and bird-watcher. He enjoyed listening to jazz at Twin Cities clubs, loved cooking and baking bread, and recently had been reading biographies of U.S. presidents.
Powers is survived by his wife, Cheryl Miller, of Birchwood; and two sisters, Martha Swanson of Ovando, Mont., and Katherine Maxwell Vose of Waterbury, Vt.
A memorial service is being planned for October.