Creative, intelligent, musical, hardworking, friendly
Independent, creative, and a perfectionist, Brian didn’t believe in half-measures. When he played music, he didn’t stop at one instrument; he played them all–guitar, saxophone, drums, and even mandolin. When he built things, they lasted. When he loved, he loved with his whole heart.
Brian had a talent for all things music. Besides playing instruments, he wrote his own pieces and sang. He joined the band Cirrus in his teens, and later started his own band, Pivot, with his brother Jason. His creativity also served him in building and making things beautiful: he owned both a roofing business and a lawn care business with loyal employees and customers who appreciated his attention to detail. This attention to detail contributed, too, to a special knack for imitating others–particularly his mother, when he was poking fun at her.
School was not a happy place for Brian. In fifth grade, he was diagnosed with ADHD. Though the school promised accommodations, they never followed through–a pattern that continued to high school. “I was a strong advocate,” his mother Pauline said, “but unfortunately, he saw that as a negative. It made him look different from other students.”
Brian began experimenting with substances around the age of 15. He skipped classes, leading teachers to contact his parents. Pauline drove him to school, but Brian simply walked in one door and right out the other. After he dropped out of school the second time, Brian was determined not to return; he moved out and began working. Later in life, he earned his GED with good marks—without studying or attending review sessions.
Life turned tumultuous with the combination of substance use disorder and a diagnosis of liver disease. Brian was in pain often. His parents and two brothers, Michael, and Jason loved and supported him, no matter how difficult the situation was–and it was difficult. Programs to support those battling addiction were sparse and required long waits. Brian moved between his parents’ home, medical facilities, and shared living spaces for over a decade.
Amid the lows, there were highs. Brian was a father of three: Kayla, Archer, and Will. He wanted to be a part of their lives; to share hobbies with them; to do more for them. Whether it was teaching them how to fix cars, reading books to them over the phone, or celebrating his grandson Davis’s first Christmas with silly hats and big smiles–he thought the world of his children and wanted the best for them.
After Brian passed, over one hundred friends and family filled his Celebration of Life gathering with music and fond memories. He could be stubborn and unpredictable, but he was good-hearted, witty, and friendly. Former bandmates played the music he had written; Jason and Kayla duetted “Blackbird” by Paul McCartney–one of his favorite songs.
“I miss his smile, his humorous wit, his laugh, and being able to say, ‘I love you,’” his mother shared.
Pauline has built more reliable networks for those battling addiction. She confessed that it took a lot of learning to understand that SUD was “a disease and not a moral downfall or weakness of character.” She reached out to state representatives to petition for increased program funding and availability and brought an Attack Addiction chapter to Sussex County. She was the leader for four years, guiding others to resources and educating them on how to support their loved ones.
Brian’s mother, Pauline Powell, provided the information for this narrative.
April 21, 1978 – April 16, 2022 – Age 43
Portrait Artist: Shawn Faust
Narrative Writer: Angela Day