By Kayla Reeves
One Baylor professor and bowling instructor will celebrate his 90th birthday on May 1.
Dr. Ted Powers, professor emeritus of health, human performance and recreation (HHPR), has been teaching at Baylor for more than half a century.
“I think my first paycheck was for February of 1954,” he said.
Today, Powers teaches a class about principles and philosophy of HHPR and instructs bowling classes.
He said his secret to staying healthy and physically fit is “just keep on living.”
“I’ve always been a disciple of exercise and fitness,” he said. “I ride a stationary bike and walk my treadmill every day now, but I used to do a lot more than that.”
Vision problems keep him from bowling now, but he said he still enjoys teaching it.
“I demonstrate,” he said. “My biggest problem now is I can’t see the pins.”
Powers was the chair of the HHPR department from 1968-1988, and he hired many of the current faculty members.
Dr. Margaret Wooddy, HHPR professor and director of human performance, was a student in Powers’ class decades ago. She is now a good friend and colleague of his, and gives him a ride to school every morning.
“He really has been an example of how you can integrate your faith into learning at Baylor,” she said. “He loves his students, and that piece of him comes through in his teaching. The unconditional love that God has for us is the love that he expresses.”
Powers plans to keep teaching “until they run me off, but that’ll probably be about another two weeks,” he joked. “I would teach as long as I could teach because this is my life.”
Throughout the 58 years Powers has been at Baylor, he has not noticed many changes aside from campus growth.
“Baylor is a combination of excellent educational thrust and a Christian atmosphere…the students here are an excellent group of young people, and they always have been,” he said.
When he started working in Rena Marrs McLean Gymnasium, it was only a basketball court with classrooms underneath the bleachers where the tall students could not stand up, he said. And on the other side of Waco Creek, where a lot of today’s campus is, there was a run-down housing area.
Since then, Powers has taught classes; chaired the HHPR department; worked closely with the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society and several other organizations; served as president of TAHPERD (Texas Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance); started the first ever Special Olympics event in Texas; overseen the planning of the Baylor Marina and much more.
During his years at Baylor, Powers has touched many lives, Dr. Deborah Johnston, associate professor of HHPR and one of Powers’ former students, said.
“He shaped our profession and our department and the type of education we provide for students,” she said. “There are people who would say they’d do anything for Ted Powers. When you’re a special person, you have a special impact on everybody.”
Powers said he is not planning a 90th birthday party, but will probably do something with one of this three daughters who lives nearby.
“I’m not big on celebrations,” he said, “If I wake up that morning and I’m still alive, that will be great.”