Shane Powers passed away last month. COURTESY| Dignity Memorial

It takes a special person to ingra­tiate himself into a close-knit com­munity in less than two years. Shane Powers, account support manager for Bon Appetit, did just that. Powers died on July 28 in Lansing, Michigan, at the age of 54 from com­pli­ca­tions of alco­holism. 

Although pri­marily based at Albion College, a small liberal arts school about 40 minutes north of Hillsdale College, Powers joined Bon Appetit Hillsdale in 2018 and quickly endeared himself to stu­dents and staff alike. Known for his warmth and gre­garious per­son­ality, Powers could often be found walking around the dining hall to per­sonally greet stu­dents, ask after their meals, or offer them a cookie for dessert. 

Powers brought changes to the dining room, starting with the long-neglected salad bar, to which he added a host of new top­pings and dressings. He also expanded the selection of healthy dining choices and options for stu­dents or vis­itors with allergies and dietary restric­tions, adding the “Market” section, with grains and fruits and a stir fry bar. Powers was always open to feedback from diners and encouraged stu­dents to request food items they wanted.

“Shane made a strong impression on everyone he met,” said Dave Apthorpe, general manager for Bon Appetit Hillsdale. “He went above and beyond to provide excellent hos­pi­tality to the guests he served. He was taken away far too soon and filling the hole that he left will not be easy.”

Powers’ job was to manage the guest expe­rience, a duty he took seri­ously. He intro­duced weekend dining hall trivia nights, com­plete with a micro­phone and A.J.’s Cafe vouchers as prizes. As Easter approached, Powers took pride in making campus festive, hiding plastic eggs filled with candy and gift cards all over the quad. During finals week in the dead of winter, Powers could be found riding around campus in a golf cart to deliver hot chocolate and coffee to stu­dents studying late. 

Always willing to help, Powers’ assis­tance in car­rying food from the cafe­teria to a table was a relief to injured student-ath­letes like senior Jonathan Burton, a line­backer on the football team.

“When I had ankle surgery and used crutches last spring, Shane came to my aid before I’d even gathered the courage to ask for help,” Burton recalled. “More than missing our usual inter­ac­tions at meals, I’ll miss how he often went out of his way to help others.”

Powers’ wife, Julie, said he would have been pleased to be remem­bered that way.   

“He always called you all his kids and people would get con­fused about whether he was speaking of his bio­logical kids or his college kids,” she told the Col­legian in an email. “He sat around thinking of ideas and brain­storming with us how to make the kids feel welcome and loved like they were at home.”

Powers’ heart for hos­pi­tality wasn’t lost on stu­dents, who have taken to Facebook and other online plat­forms to pour out mem­ories and con­do­lences.

Shortly after Powers’ death, senior Megan Kerr started a GoFundMe to raise money to help the Powers family cover funeral costs, some­thing she said she was inspired to do after expe­ri­encing a loss of her own recently. As of Aug. 25, Kerr’s fundraiser has raised nearly $2,600.

“The Hillsdale com­munity has been very sup­portive of this cam­paign, beyond my expec­ta­tions,” Kerr said. “I set the goal amount to $1,000, orig­i­nally, and this goal was met in less than 24 hours. I am so proud of the stu­dents’ efforts and their drive to help out a family in need. Shane has given us so much, and the least we can do is raise money to give back.”

Powers is sur­vived by his wife, Julie; daughter, Orion; son, Storm; his mother, Joyce; brothers, Brian and Robin; and a host of cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephew. A cel­e­bration of life event was held on Sunday, Aug. 23 in Holt, Michigan.