Don Michael Powers, a resident of Lynchburg, Virginia since 1998, passed away October 6, 2019 with his dear wife, Dorla by his side at Westminster Canterbury where he has recently resided. Don was born on September 1, 1933, in Coeburn, Virginia, the son of Geoffery O. Powers and Sylvia (Michael) Powers. Don was predeceased by his parents and his four younger brothers, David B. Powers, Thomas M. Powers, James B. Powers and Douglas M. Powers. Don graduated from Coeburn High School in 1951 where he excelled academically and in sports and upon graduation joined the United States Air Force. Don served the United States for four years and at the end of his service enrolled at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and graduated with honors in 1959 with a degree in electrical engineering. Don and Dorla Sue Suttle were married on June 3, 1953 and they were blessed with three daughters, Donna Sue, Jo Ann Sharkshnas (Mike) and Michelle Neill (Mark) and four grandchildren Matthew, Christopher, Abigail and Rebecca. Don was a member of the Peakland United Methodist Church where he and Dorla renewed their wedding vows on their 50th wedding anniversary in 2003. In addition to Don's success in business he has always been a man of faith and family. A man of few words, thoughtful, generous, compassionate and a fighter to the end. Don Powers spent his career at IBM, helping to grow the firm into one of the world's technology giants during a 28-year career. His resume reads as a near-history of IBM's powerful run in large mainframe computing. An early assignment was for the National Security Agency, on a mainframe that was powered by thousands of transistors and employed magnetic core memory. During his career, he was involved in the design and development of System 360, 370 and later as product manager for the Model 308X series. He was the Director of the IBM Kingston Development Laboratory, developing software and hardware for large computer mainframes when he decided to retire in 1987. He then was recruited by Control Data Corporation in Minnesota as vice-president of development and research. After a few years of redirecting their computer group, Don was appointed President of CDC's Empros Systems unit, which built transmission control systems for power companies. There, he increased new orders from $40 million to $100 million and increased profit margins fivefold. Two years later, CDC sold the unit to Siemens and Don retired for good and he and Dorla moved back to Virginia. Virginia Tech College of Engineering, in 2011, bestowed to Don the distinguished honor of being inducted into the Academy of Engineering Excellence for his meritorious lifetime achievements and contributions to engineering. A memorial service will be held at Peakland United Methodist Church, 4434 Boonsboro Rd, Lynchburg, VA 24503 at 11 a.m. on Saturday, October 12, 2019 with the Reverend Dr. John N. Vest officiating. The family would like to thank the staff at Westminster Canterbury and Senior Independence for their wonderful sensitive care. In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to Peakland United Methodist Church at the above address. Tharp Funeral Home & Crematory, Lynchburg, is assisting the family. To send condolences, please visit tharpfuneralhome.com.
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