Rom Watson Powell
Rom Watson Powell
  • May 31, 1935 - December 15, 2017
  • Winter Park, Florida

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Rom Watson Powell, 82, passed peacefully December 15, 2017. Born in Atlanta to parents Dr. Vernon E. Powell of Atlanta and Margaret Watson of Wilson, NC., he attended public schools in Atlanta, then graduated from Dartmouth College with an A.B. degree in English and a minor in History. He served in the Marine Corps. as a lieutenant infantry platoon commander with the 2nd Marine Division at Camp LeJeune.

After discharge, Rom graduated from Stetson College of Law and worked as a law clerk for a prominent Tampa attorney. He was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1963 and served as Assistant State Attorney. He then moved to Winter Park and began working as an Assistant Orange County Solicitor in Orlando. He also worked for and became a partner with the local law firm of Hunter, Pattillo & Powell. In 1968, he was appointed Orange County Solicitor and re-elected in 1970, later merging his office and staff with the State Attorney. During his years as a prosecutor he tried hundreds of cases including the first case in Florida to use voice print and legal wiretap evidence. Rom served as Chief Assistant State Attorney until 1978 when he was elected Circuit Judge. Rom sat as a circuit judge for 18 years, serving in every division of the court, three of those years as the only circuit judge in Osceola County. While on the criminal bench he presided over the first case in the country to use DNA evidence. Rom was highly respected by his fellow lawyers and Judges, always punctual, hard-working, and treated everyone fairly and courteously.

After hanging up his robe in 1996, he continued to serve as Senior Judge, Special Magistrate and Arbitrator. He taught courses in the New Florida Judges College at Rollins College and UCF, and lectured numerous times on subjects of law and procedure. He authored several articles, including a chapter in the Florida Bar Continuing Legal Education book.

Rom was preceded in death by his son, Doug Powell of Winter Park and his beloved wife of 57 years, Barbara Bishop of Ocala. He leaves behind a sister, Margaret Chambers of Wilton, NH; sons, Jim Powell (Loresa) of Maitland and Scott Powell (Candi) of Winter Park; grandchildren, David (Gracie), Daniel, Taylor, Will, and two great grandchildren.

In his early days Rom was a Cub Scout, Boy Scout and Explorer. The avid outdoorsman, his hobbies included fishing, hunting, canoeing, camping and backpacking.

Although his family and those who knew him will miss him, we pray and believe we will see him again in the High Court. In leaving, Rom says to all of us “Semper Fi, and may peace be among people and nations, and may justice always prevail.”

Per Rom’s request, no formal memorial service will be held, but the family plans to schedule a Celebration of Life after the holidays. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to the Wounded Warrior Project. Visit to sign the online guest book.