by Debi Sporleder
WALSENBURG — Thomas S. Powell is a success story of a young entrepreneur from South Africa with a lust for travel who, at age 18, borrowed a suitcase and worked his way through Africa, then Canada and eventually, through a series of events, landed in Walsenburg.
Powell seems to have that golden touch where everything he sets out to do, he succeeds. He’s been a banker, copper miner, served in the Royal Canadian Air Force as a navigator with the famous Danny Walker as his commanding officer, the mayor of Walsenburg and then an insurance broker.
He and his wife, Sue, have “always been believers in the good Lord and that motivation comes in weird ways”, which is exactly true with the way Walsenburg ended up with the energy of the Powell family. Powell met Jim Ludvik while selling insurance to propane dealers and traveled frequently through Walsenburg. After some encouragement from Lollie Ariano, they moved here in 1982 and started the Walsenburg Insurance Center in what is currently the Huerfano Cafe. They now have a beautiful building on Main Street with 6½ employees (including Donna who’s been there 30 years). As of Oct. 1 they will continue to do business as Walsenburg Insurance Center but will be owned by Insurance Office of America NE. The existing staff in Walsenburg and Westcliffe will remain, and continue to provide quality insurance and service to the public.
Powell’s daughter, Sharon Ulrich, (who has been there over 22 years) will continue as the manager while Tom and Sue do what they like to do rather than what they have to do.
Some of those things will be getting better at making stained glass, helping at the animal sanctuary near Johnstown, CO (where they have purchased a home), work with youth to teach them English and how to utilize words and communicate so they can be more productive, and read more of the 3,200 books he has on his iPad.
Looks like retirement won’t be sitting on the couch watching TV for Tom and Sue. May the best years be ahead for this energetic couple.