From left, Janet Powell, wife of the late Lem Powell; B.J. Whitburn, COM law enforcement program coordinator; and Carla Anderson, chair of the Public Service Careers Department

In a room filled with people whose lives he touched, the late Lemuel “Lem” Powell was remembered Sept. 18 with the naming of the College of the Mainland firing range in his honor.

The Lemuel B. Powell Memorial Firearms Training Center is dedicated to the memory of the man who for 28 years taught students in the COM Basic Peace Officer Academy, civilians seeking concealed handgun licenses and local police officers.
“He had a heart the size of Texas,” Ron Morales, chief of the Dickinson Police Department, said at the ceremony.

Speakers included Rabbi James Kessler, retired from B’nai Israel Temple in Galveston; Morales; Les Nolan, of the La Marque Masonic Lodge #1325; Tom Elder, of the Galveston sheriff’s office; and Larry Martin, COM firearms instructor.
Powell served in the Galveston Police Department for 26 years before teaching at COM and eventually serving as range master.
“What set him apart from everyone else was the way he treated people. When he spoke to you, there was always a kindness in his counsel,” said Elder. “Lem was a leader, but he was so much more than that. Every time he walked in a room, when he left, it was better.”
The memorial follows an outpouring of requests from local law enforcement agencies and COM Police Academy graduates to honor Powell.
“We received requests from the Galveston County sheriff’s office, Department of Public Safety troopers and local law enforcement agencies,” said Carla Anderson, COM Public Service Careers department chair. “Lem was a great man of very high character and integrity, but most importantly he treated everyone with dignity and respect.”
The firing range was built in the 1970s with a Moody Grant, and since then COM has used it in support of the COM Criminal Justice Program.
Powell committed to increasing the training that the firearms center offered and developing close relationships with local law enforcement agencies.
“In his 28 years at the college, he provided firearms training for generations of officers,” recalled Larry Martin, COM firearms instructor. “Through these, Lem’s legacy as a firearms instructor lives on.”