‹ Return to Current Obituaries

Order Flowers now for guaranteed delivery before Walter's visitation.

Walter "Bob" Powell

Bob Powell was born May 24, 1930 in Yreka, California. He passed away on June 26, 2019 in the presence of his family. He was 89 years old.  He had been lovingly cared for in his final days at the Carlton Senior Living Facility.

He grew up in Pinnacles National Monument and later Oakland California. Education was very important to his family and he graduated from Oakland Technical High School in 1948. He then attended the University of California Berkeley and graduated in 1952 with a BS in Forestry.  While a student at Berkeley he was a member of the Glee club and the Men’s Octet. For the two years following his graduation from college he was a soldier in the US Army.

He worked for the University of California Davis for 35 years as an agronomy and range science research specialist. He played a key role in the US Geological Soil Vegetation Survey identifying and mapping the soils and plants of California by county.

His lifelong interest in plants went beyond his work at UCD. He was an active member of the California Native Plant Society and was instrumental in helping to identify and catalog rare plant species. He is author of the publication “Inventory of Rare and Endangered Vascular Plants of California” which is available for viewing online as a PDF at: file:///C:/Users/hm/Downloads/Inventory%20of%20Rare%20and%20Endangered%20Vascular%20Plants%20of%20CA.pdf

As a longtime resident of Davis Bob took great interest in the promotion of bicycle transportation and was a member of the grassroots committee that helped to ensure the installment of the first bike lanes on our city streets.  He himself rode his bike to work at UCD.

Bob was an avid tennis fan as both a player and spectator. He enjoyed international travel with his family. He and his wife, Mary Lou, took their grandchildren on multiple international trips.  He very much enjoyed the outdoors and often went camping and hiking, Yosemite being his favorite. He enjoyed singing and participated in many city musical productions including the The HMS Pinafore and The Fantastiks. He also frequently attended the Messiah production.

Bob was active on the board of Longview Elementary School where his children attended school during the 1960’s and early 1970’s. His tireless efforts in helping with management, maintenance and fund raising for the school were essential to its operation.

He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Mary Louise Powell, who he met at a folk dance festival and fell madly in love with. He is also survived by daughter Heidi McNulty, son John Powell and grandchildren Amanda McNulty, William McNulty, James McNulty, Joseph McNulty and Paul McNulty.

Services will be held at Smith Funeral Home in Davis Saturday, July 6, 2019 at 10 AM, followed by burial at Davis Cemetery and at noon there will be light refreshments at the Powell home at 1306 Toyon Place in Davis.

In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made to Davis Community Meals: https://daviscommunitymeals.org/donate/

To plant memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Walter Powell, please visit our flower store.


Bob and Mary Lou ran a daycare out of their homes, as many people know. They were both two of the kindest and loving people Ive ever met. Me and my three siblings all went to their daycare and stayed in touch the many years later. In 2017, I got married and invited Bob and Mary Lou to our wedding. Ever the adventurers, they booked a hotel and spent a couple days in San Francisco and taxi cabbed around with his walker. Bob was quite the man and helped countless kids with his kindness and patience. Much Love Bob.

Tim Apr 11 2020 12:00 AM

We also got to know Bob and Mary Lou through tennis. They were always tenacious competitors and fun to get to know. Bob was always a very kind gentleman and a wonderful person. We send our deepest condolences to Mary Lou and the rest of the family.

Diana and Alan Perkins Oct 5 2019 12:00 AM

My sons Harry and John were lucky enough to have been cared for by Bob and Mary Lou (and Stacey and Theresa!) in the 1990s. Only a few days ago John was remarking that one of his earliest memories was of waking up from a nap in one of the quiet rooms at the back of the house. The Powells were an essential part of our family being what it is today. I chose my doctor (Heidi McNulty) because she is their daughter and I knew anyone raised by Bob and Mary Lou would be an amazing caregiver. Rest in Peace Bob.

Amy Clarke Jul 17 2019 12:00 AM

We got to know Bob and Mary Lou through tennis. Every year the Davis Tennis Club sponsored tournaments and you could always count on both of them participating. Our sincerest condolences to Mary Lou and the family.

Miller Family Jul 16 2019 12:00 AM

Bob was a remarkable fellow in Hunt Hall - Agronomy & Range Science that I got to know as a graduate student in the 80's. A genuinely nice man and knowledgeable about many natural resource topics; I enjoyed our many discussions during those years. My condolences to his family and friends.

Eric Loft Jul 12 2019 12:00 AM

I spent my earliest years at Bob and Mary Lou's daycare and have fond memories of it. Their backyard was like a fantasy world to a toddler, with its bamboo and flowers everywhere, and in that yard I made my first friends. Bob would celebrate our milestones, too: treats for birthdays, parties for holidays, etc. And always music. To this day, I can summon the cleanup song from some distant corner of my mind. Thank you for the gentle start in life, Bob. Rest well.

Michelle H. Jul 11 2019 12:00 AM

What a wonderful person. I consider myself lucky to have known Bob. His optimism was infectious. I loved hearing him play the piano and sing old songs. His curiosity was never ending. He loved to tell the story behind songs such as Waltzing Matilda. Rest in Peace and love Bob.

karen Edmiston Jul 6 2019 12:00 AM