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Daniel K. Powers

May 20, 2018

Daniel K. Powers, 68, died on Sunday, May 20, while receiving hospice care at the Lancaster Rehabilitation Center in Lincoln. The cause was acute erythroid leukemia. Dan was born in 1949 in Omaha, graduated from Creighton Prep in 1967, earned a degree in political science in 1972 from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and obtained his law degree from the University of Nebraska in 1976. Dan began his legal career in the Douglas County Public Defender's Office and later went into private practice in Omaha. Dan joined the Peace Corps in 1973 and was stationed in the Marshall Islands, but his service was cut short by the onset of bipolar disorder. Despite the debilitating effects of this condition, Dan did not give in or give up. He utilized his own experience with the mental health system to become a consumer advocate at the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. In that role, he assisted and advocated for patients who typically had no one else to speak on their behalf. He was their voice, and he devoted more than 20 years in that job. He was named his department's Employee of the Year. In 2003 he was elected president of the National Association of Consumer/Survivor Mental Health Administrators. In 2004, Dan proposed a national monument commemorating the hundreds of thousands of men and women who died in institutions at a time when mental ill-ness was considered so shameful that only numbers were used for their graves. The National Association of Consumer/Survivor Mental Health Administrators took up the cause and in 2009 invited Dan to the dedication of the memorial site at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C., called The Gardens at St. Elizabeths -- A National Memorial of Recovered Dignity. Dan's work was recognized by the Mental Health Association of Nebraska with creation of its Visionary Powers Award: “Dan Powers had a vision that changed the focus of the nation. Nominate a visionary whose idea moves communities for-ward together.” Dan was preceded in death by his parents, John and Marjorie Powers, and by his son-in-law, Jason Martin. Dan leaves behind a loving daughter, Loucile Powers Martin, three grandchildren, Caroline Martin, Marguerite Martin, and Theodore Martin, all of Norton, Ohio; brothers John Powers of Seattle, Washington; Vincent (Alison) Powers of Lincoln; Edward (Leslie) Powers of New York City, and James (Mary) Powers of Omaha, as well as one sister, Mary Powers of Omaha, and many loving nephews and nieces. He will be missed. His family especially wants to thank the staff of the Lancaster Rehabilitation Center for their loving and attentive care of Dan during his recent illness. Dan left his body to the University of Nebraska Medical School. A service celebrating his life will be held by his family later this year. Memorials may be made to the University of Nebraska Law School, Ohio State University, or the Mental Health Association of Nebraska (mha-ne.org).