Walter S. Powell, born in Philadelphia in 1879, worked for the Moench Tanning Company in Gowanda, New York, before Brown Shoe bought it in 1926. He moved to St. Louis in the mid-1920s as Brown’s manager of tanneries and a member of its board of directors. In St. Louis Walter Powell began his love affair, skating frequently at the Winter Garden rink. He became a judge and helped start the Midwestern competition, first held in St. Louis in 1933. The USFSA executives soon noticed Walter Powell’s leadership skills and invited him to join the USFSA board. He was second vice president in 1937, first vice president in 1940, and president from 1943 to 1946.
In 1947 Powell was appointed the first U.S. representative for the International Skating Union (ISU), as a spokesperson for both the USFSA and CFSA. His responsibilities took him to meetings and competitions in all the major European cities. He proposed that ice dancing be included in international competitions, and five years later ice dancing made its debut at the 1952 Worlds. On Christmas Day 1951, Walter married his longtime friend Helen Lamb in St. Louis. Besides judging Walter was an international referee and a member of the United States Olympic Association board of directors. He was involved in the 1956 and 1960 Olympic Winter Games, and was on board for the 1964 Games in Innsbruck, Austria. Walter traveled with every U.S. World Team, so it was no surprise that Powell, eighty-one, boarded a seat on Sabena Flight 548.