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PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — PGA Life Member William James (Bill) Powell of East Canton, Ohio, the only African American to build, own and operate a golf course, and a selfless ambassador for building diversity in the game, died Dec. 31, at Aultman Hospital in Canton following complications from a stroke. He was 93.

Powell had celebrated in 2009 what he recently called “the best year of my life” – a season of tributes highlighted by his receiving in August the PGA Distinguished Service Award, the Association’s highest annual honor. In November, Powell was inducted into the Northern Ohio PGA Hall of Fame; was named Person of the Year by the Ohio Golf Course Owners Association, and the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce presented the Powell family its Community Salute Award.

“Bill Powell will forever be one of golf’s most unforgettable American heroes,” said PGA of America President Jim Remy. “Bill made us appreciate the game and each other that much more by his gentle, yet firm example. He was born with a fire within his heart to build on his dream. In the process, he made golf a beacon for people of all color. The PGA of America is better today because of individuals like Bill Powell. We will miss him dearly. We extend our thoughts and prayers to his family as we remember a wonderful man.”

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