IN MEMORIAM: The Rev. Robert Leonard Powers ('56)


The Rev. Robert L. Powers (Class of 1956), priest of the Episcopal Church and licensed clinical psychologist, died on April 23, 2013 in Seattle, WA following a long, multifaceted illness. He was a 15-year resident of Port Townsend, WA and a communicant at St. Paul’s Church. He was born on December 29, 1929 in Buffalo, N.Y.The religious values of his Irish Catholic and German Protestant grandparents, and also of his Jewish grandmother-by-affection, inspired his ministerial studies. He also attended Capital University, Columbus, Ohio, Yale University Divinity School, and studied with Father Eligius Buytaert at the Franciscan Institute, Olean, NY.

Powers was ordained a deacon in 1956 by Bishop Lauriston Livingston Scaife of the Diocese of Western New York and Bishop Thaddeus Zielinski of the Old Catholic (Polish National) Church, and was ordained a priest in 1957. He served in Olean, NY, and Elkhart, IN, and as priest-in-charge of the Episcopal Church Center and All Saints Chapel in Chicago’s Loop.

In Chicago, Powers began his studies in psychology at the Alfred Adler Institute where he earned a certificate in psychotherapy. Continuing at the University of Chicago, he completed a master’s degree in religion and personality. In 1972, he was licensed in Illinois as a clinical psychologist. He joined the faculty of the Adler School, taught at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, Evanston, IL, counseled former prisoners at St. Leonard’s House, and for 15 years counseled families monthly in a public setting at the Adler School. In 1995, he was designated Distinguished Service Professor by the School. He retired as professor emeritus.

Powers was a board member of the Illinois Division of the American Civil Liberties Union, president of the Chicago Chapter of the Episcopal Society for Cultural and Racial Unity, and was in Selma, AL with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., during the civil rights struggle. He served as president of the Chicago Psychological Association (now the Illinois Psychological Association) and as president of the North American Society of Adlerian Psychology (NASAP).

He is survived by his wife of 34 years, Jane Serrill Griffith, a licensed clinical counselor. Together, they conducted a private practice in Chicago, taught at the Adler School, coauthored articles and texts in the psychology of Alfred Adler, and traveled widely in the U.S. and abroad, teaching and lecturing. In 2011, at its annual conference, NASAP presented the society’s Lifetime Achievement Award to them jointly for their contributions to Adlerian psychology.

The funeral service was held at Thomsen Chapel, St. Mark’s Cathedral, Seattle with the Rt. Rev. Gregory H. Rickel, Bishop of the Diocese of Olympia, presiding.