Walter Connally Powell, Jr., (Walt)

  • Born: December 26, 1979
  • Died: June 4, 2013
  • Location: Austin, Texas

Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home North

3125 N Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78705

info@wcfish.com
Tel. (512) 452-8811

Tribute & Message From The Family


Walter Connally Powell, Jr. (Walt), 33, widely known and admired in both the hospitality industry and craft beer community, died unexpectedly of natural causes Tuesday, June 4, 2013 in Austin, Texas. He was born on December 26, 1979 in Tyler, Texas, the only child of Walter Connally Powell and Bolivia C. Powell. At the time of death Walt was Vice President of Operations, Flix Entertainment Group, where he co-developed and operated the Flix Brewhouse and HomeField Grill concepts in Round Rock, Texas.

In addition to both parents, Walt is survived by special friend Heather L. Klein, and a host of other family members as well as many friends. He was preceded in death by his grandparents, Delbert L. Powell, Martha Ann Connally Cassel and Joe B. Cassel, and B.L. and Lottie Belle Collins.

Growing up in Tyler, this future beer eminence served Christ Episcopal Church as a devoted member of the youth choir and appeared as a child actor in local civic theater productions. As a youngster, Walt was a skilled Ventriloquist and Magician. At age 11, while a student at All Saints Episcopal School, Walt attended Space Camp junior astronaut training at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville Alabama, where he won the award for most outstanding cadet.

Active in sports, Walt was a fearless black diamond skier on the slopes of Crested Butte, Colorado and a skilled marksman. A lifelong animal lover, his shooting targets were mostly on paper. He also was an avid fly fisherman, tying his own flies. In 1988 Walt was a Page to Queen Lora Beth Clyde in the Texas Rose Festival. Later, he also was an Escort in the Rose Festival. Walt was active in showing dogs in Conformation and Junior Showmanship.

Precocious in business even in high school, he was promoted to general manager of a $1 million sales volume Domino's Pizza at age 18. Walt graduated from Bending Oaks High School in Dallas and attended North Texas State University. He was interested in continuing his higher education in the field of Music, but the restaurant bug had bit, and Walt elected to pursue a career in the hospitality industry.

He held a number of positions of increasing responsibility, including area training manager for 60 Papa John's stores in the DFW metroplex and assistant general manager of a Flying Saucer, where his craft beer hobby began. Walt joined Main Event family entertainment centers, and while in his 20's was promoted to general manager of their flagship location in northwest Austin, responsible for some 200 employees.

After helming two other large family entertainment center concepts, Incredible Pizza in Euless, Texas, and Brunswick Zone xL in Algonquin, Illinois, Walt returned to Texas in early 2010 to take the reins of two development stage concepts. He was the opening general manager for HomeField Grill, bringing not just a popular sports restaurant but a bit of haute cuisine and beer appreciation to the Round Rock community. As co-founder of Flix Brewhouse, which existed only as a vague idea when Walt took charge, he brought to life the only first-run cinema microbrewery in the world and made it an over-the-top success. Creative and innovative, Walt conceived of Firkin Fest, which brought together a dozen craft breweries from across Texas for an amazing day of great beer and great fellowship. At the time of death Walt was deeply involved in planning the national roll-out of several additional Flix Brewhouse locations, and his DNA will surely live forever in the fabric of all Flix theaters.

Walt was a founder and administrator for Rate Beer, an internet community of lovers and critics of fine beer. He was a fixture for years until his death at beer festivals and events across the country, and was an active member of numerous craft beer social and trade groups. His passion for beer was greatest for sweet, malty Belgian brews. Walt's idea of a superb trip to Europe was visiting Trappist monasteries in Belgium, and using his fluency in French to learn the secrets of their ancient brewing techniques.

Mentor, confidante and quipster, Walt delighted in bringing people together and making good times flow. He loved beer, music and laughs. He was one of a kind — an iconoclast who loved knowing others were happy. His sense of humor was epic, wise and frequently self-inflicted. If the ability to make — and take — a joke is a sign of intelligence, Walt had an IQ right up there with Einstein. If Walt pranked you, you were lucky. But when matters were serious, Walt always thought issues through, and had the courage to go toe-to-toe with anyone in the marketplace of ideas.

Walt delighted in shock and surprise but no one was more reliable. His generosity and ability to connect deeply with those around him was legendary. He wasn't a big man physically, but he had a giant heart, and everyone he touched knew they had met someone special.

Beer savant extraordinaire, hospitality executive, musician and music lover, amateur chef and serious foodie, world traveler, writer, debater, marksman, athlete, an intellectually curious and creative thinker, multi-lingual raconteur, practical joker of the first order, a lover of people, animals and life, Walt Powell, the eternal optimist, was a Renaissance Man for the new millennium.

Funeral services will be 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at Christ Episcopal Church in Tyler. Interment in the family plot in Rose Hill Cemetery in Tyler will follow. A special memorial service for all of Walt's family, friends, and colleagues will be 1:00 p.m. Tuesday, June 18th at Flix Brewhouse in Round Rock. And there will be beer. Good beer. For Walt.

Memorial contributions may be made to Christ Episcopal Church, All Saints Episcopal School, both in Tyler, Responsible Pet Owners Alliance (www.responsiblepetowners.org), Pints for Prostates (www.pintsforprostates.org) or to a charity of your choice.