By April Bethea | The Charlotte Observer

In this photo from 2009, Geraldine Powe hugs summer camper Jade Manigault before handing out peppermint candy to the kids. Powe, who was executive director of the Anita Stroud Center, stayed on as a volunteer when the organization could no longer afford to pay her. (Photo: Robert Lahser of The Charlotte Observer)

Longtime youth director and Charlotte community activist Geraldine Powe is being remembered by friends and family for her passion in helping children become their best no matter their background.

Powe, who served for years as director of the Anita Stroud Youth Development Center in Charlotte, died Saturday after an illness. She was 90.

Powe was a Charlotte native who graduated in 1944 from West Charlotte High and later from Johnson C. Smith University. She worked for about three decades in New York as a teacher and school administrator before returning to Charlotte in 1979.

Back home, Powe got involved in community organizations, including the West Charlotte High National Alumni Association and the local chapter of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women (she had been a member of the club in New York). She would serve as the women’s group president during the early 1990s.

A few years after returning to Charlotte, Powe began volunteering with the Anita Stroud Youth Development Center and Anita Stroud Foundation and would remain involved for nearly the rest of her life. The longtime after-school tutoring program was started by the late Stroud, and served students at the old Fairview Homes public housing complex (now The Park at Oaklawn) and in other areas.

Powe became the center’s executive director in 1990, a position she held for 17 years.

Powe wanted to make sure that children, especially those from the inner city, got the resources they needed to be successful and not be left behind, said Nancy Stroud, who served as director of the center’s after-school program. She also felt it was important to reach out to their families as well.

Powe could be stern, but some who went to the center said they appreciated her for that. “They came back years later and thanked her for the guidance,” said friend and former classmate Theresea Elder.

“We all have a purpose here,” Elder said. Working with youth is “what I felt she was called to do.”

Powe retired from the Anita Stroud Center in 2007, though she would remain a volunteer in following years. She continued to visit the center until her health prevented her recently.

Another youth program that Powe was involved with was the Youth Opportunity University – or YOU – a summer program at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church.

Ten years ago, guests at Powe’s 80th birthday party donated money to the youth summer program, as well as the Anita Stroud Foundation and a scholarship fund for West Charlotte High students.

Powe had talked in recent years of repeating the effort for her 90th birthday, which was Dec. 5. Her health didn’t allow her to hold the party, but Stroud says she’d like to still hold the event in memory of her friend.

Among Powe’s survivors are a sister, Bettye Holloway, and nieces and nephews. The family will receive visitors at 11 a.m. Saturday at Friendship Missionary Baptist, 3400 Beatties Ford Rd. A service will follow at noon.

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