Powell Police Department Memorial
Each year on May 15th, National Peace Officers Memorial Day, members of the Powell Police Department take part in a ceremony to honor all Police Officers who have sacrificed their lives in the line of Duty. Officers proceed in a procession from the Powell Law Enforcement Center to the Crown Hill Cemetery where a small memorial service is conducted to honor the lives of the two Powell Police Officers who have given their lives in the line of duty: Chief Anthony Nelson and Town Marshal Charles Lewis.
Chief of Police Anthony B. Nelson
April 6th 1895 - October 29th 1950
Chief Anthony B. Nelson was born in Riverside Township, Ill on April 6th 1895. He moved to Wyoming in 1912 where he spent most of his life. He was employed at the Salt Creek and Elk Basin oil fields before serving with a hospital unit with the 41st Machine Gun Battalion in France during World War I.
When he returned to Wyoming he went to work in Yellowstone National Park where he remained for 25 years. For his service he was given a citation for the Department of the Interior and had the distinction of being the first Wyoming resident to receive this award.
Nelson became a member of the Powell Police Department in 1946 and later was made acting Chief of Police. Nelson was 6’4” tall and weighed 270 lbs. Because of his size he gained notoriety as a member of the department. Children around town knew and loved Nelson and never failed to wave a cheery greeting while saying “Hi Tony!”
On October 29th, 1950 Chief Nelson was making an arrest when he was stricken with a heart attack. Co-workers placed him in a police car and rushed him to the hospital. Nelson later died and was buried in Crown Hill Cemetery.
During a research of the department’s history we learned of the circumstances of Chief Nelson’s death. As a result his passing the incident has been classified as a “Line of Duty Death”. Nelson is now recognized by the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial and has his name engraved on the memorial wall which is located in Washington DC. Nelson is also honored at the Memorial Wall at the Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy.
The Powell Police Department thanks Chief Antony B. Nelson for his service to his country, the department and the citizens of Powell.
Town Marshal Charles Lewis
March 25th 1895 - March 16th 1939
Charles Edward Leroy Lewis was born on March 25th, 1895 in Big Horn, WY. He was one of seven children, five brothers and two sisters. The family eventually moved to Basin, WY where he spent his early childhood. The family then moved to Powell in 1911 where his father, Frank Lewis, ran the local blacksmith and veterinary business. Lewis got a job as the stable boss for government owed horses used by the Shoshone reclamation project. Lewis attended the Powell High School and was a member of the 1914-1915 basketball team. He was ambitious and had aspirations of being a pharmacist and was interested in mechanics.
Lewis joined the Wyoming National Guard on March 13th, 1915 and was assigned to Company C. Lewis was stationed at Ft. Deming, New Mexico and saw combat at the Mexican border against Pancho Villa. He later moved to Camp D.A. Russell near Cheyenne, WY. Lewis was then promoted to Sergeant on August 1st, 1916. His unit was mobilized as a part of Battery F, 148th Field Artillery Brigade in March 1917. Eventually he was sent to France in 1918 during World War I. In France Lewis’ unit saw action in the Chateau-Therry, Champagne and other battles. During the war he was offered a battlefield commission in which he turned down saying he wanted to stay with Wyoming soldiers. During combat Lewis had been continuously exposed to deadly gas and suffered a minor wound to his cheek from shrapnel. This wound did affect the vision in one of his eyes. Lewis was discharged from the U.S. Army on July 5th, 1919.
After his discharge Lewis took a job with the Wiggenhorn Drug Company in Billings, MT. Lewis returned to Powell in 1920 where he worked for the Tarvin Hoops drug store. In 1921 Lewis worked on a crew that laid gas mains from Byron to Powell. On December 10th, 1921 Lewis married Sara Elizabeth “Bess” Philips. Shortly after his marriage Lewis was appointed as the Water Commissioner, Street Commissioner and Town Marshal. Lewis had involvement in the cities waterworks development, extension work, sewers, streets development and other federal programs. Lewis did all this while staying busy as Powell’s Town Marshall.
On March 16th, 1939 Lewis and Park County Sheriff Deputy D.M. Baker went to the residence of an escaped felon. Upon arrival at the residence Lewis and Baker were met with rifle fire which killed Baker and injured Lewis who later died from his injuries. Lewis was survived by his wife Bess and two daughters, Margaret and Milrae. Lewis’ funeral was attended by an estimated 3,000 people. On July 4th, 1984 Bess died peacefully in Southern California and was buried next to her beloved husband.
The following was written by General Maurice who was Lewis’ commanding officer during WWI.
“I am moved to write to you about Marshal Chuck Lewis of Powell, killed by a desperado. Iam greatly grieved and shocked. Chuck Lewis was First Sergeant of Battery F in the old 148th Field Artillery â?? the Wyoming regiment of the World War, which I had the honor to command in France. Chuck Lewis, as we knew him, was a top notch soldier; faithful, efficient and lovable. They didn’t make them any better. I knew him long and well and had deep affection for him, and I just want to pay tribute to the memory of a splendid soldier and gentleman. It is typical that he died in the line of duty, because he was the sort that always did his duty, when a soldier in his country’s service, or when an officer in his town’s service.
I want you to know of the highest esteem and affection felt by his old Commanding Officer towards a gallant soldier.”
On March 16th, 2009, seventy years after his death, Town Marshall Lewis was honored by the City of Powell and the members of the Powell Police Department by renaming the Powell Law Enforcement Center to the "Charles E. Lewis Law Enforcement Center".