POWELL, DENZIL ROY “CHIEF”
Founder of River Valley Cricket club, Poughkeepsie, New York
Fed up with city authorities’ reluctance to give them a permanent place to engage in the sport, he took the initiative to purchase land and develop his own field, which is now the pride of the community.
Denzil Roy Powell was born in Allison district, Manchester, Jamaica, February 1936, to parents Gladstone and Susan Powell. He was raised in Bath district and attended Nazareth school and church, also located in the parish of Manchester.
After leaving public school, Powell attended trade school where he learned the art of shoe making. From there he opened his first shoe shop in Mandeville, Manchester. He kept the business for several years before migrating to the United States. On his arrival in the U.S. he worked in hospitals, department stores and in the construction field before eventually venturing out into his own business, opening a shoe store with a concentration on orthopedic shoe service, a clothing department and a grocery store from which he is semi-retired, all on the same complex.
Although he did not play cricket in Jamaica – he began playing in 1976 – “Chief” as he is affectionately called said, “my family and cricket are my first loves. My love for the game,” he said, “is fueled by the gentleman principle under which the game is played. I have maintained this principle since I began playing.”
“Granville Haughton, Lloyd Miller and I formed River Valley Cricket Club in Poughkeepsie, New York in 1979. We played on three different public fields and were not allowed to construct a permanent pitch. We were only permitted to keep the field for a year or two. The game of cricket was as foreign to the community as the foreigner playing the game and each year the process of obtaining a permit to use public parks, became more difficult with potential liabilities stated as the reason for the reluctance for granting permits.
Despite the obstacles faced, I remained c omitted to the game and contributed to all the necessary elements of keeping cricket alive in my community. As the opportunity to obtain permits for us of public fields lessened, I know I had to secure a place to construct a permanent cricket field to allow the game to be played without the pitfalls endured throughout the years of relying on permission to use public properties.
I arranged to purchase a suitable piece of property which I financed and worked on the excavation to prepare the landscape to accommodate the current River Valley Cricket Field. In purchasing the property, my first goal was for the purpose of playing cricket. My second goal was to have a field that the public near and far could enjoy as my thanks for their support since I began serving the public at the age of 19. The area has become very popular in the community and I find it especially pleasing to see the kids having fun and roaming the ground. If I was asked to place a price on that, it would be a price beginning with three figures followed by many, many zeroes,” he said.