January 18, 2013 / 6:11 AM / 6 years ago

John Powers, author who wrote about growing up Catholic, dies

(Reuters) - John Powers, a U.S. author and motivational speaker who wrote about his experiences growing up Catholic in Chicago including the novel “Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?” has died, his family said on Thursday.

Powers, 67, died late Wednesday of natural causes at his home in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, his daughter Jacey Powers said.

A product of a working-class neighborhood, Powers wrote what he called humorous social portraits in columns to novels, a musical based on “Black Patent Leather Shoes” and more recently wrote and performed one-man shows.

“He cherished every moment and lived with tremendous passion and motivated others to do the same,” Jacey Powers said.

Powers lived the last 25 years in Lake Geneva, spending almost all of his time writing on the front porch, she said.

“He had just finished rewriting his one-man show and wanted to put it up,” Jacey Powers said. “(He) was always looking for new ways to reinvent himself and to find the next challenge and to live life better.”

A self-described “horrible” student at a Catholic high school - his motivational speaking website says he graduated in the bottom 3 percent of his class - he liked to say he was the only student in school history to fail music appreciation.

Powers went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from Loyola University Chicago, and a master’s and doctorate from Northwestern University and became a college professor himself for six years.

Other books by Powers include “The Last Catholic in America” and “The Unoriginal Sinner and the Ice-Cream God.”

Visitation and services are planned for Sunday at The Chapel on the Hill in Lake Geneva.

Powers is survived by his wife, JaNelle Powers, and daughters Jacey Powers and Joy Powers.

Reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis; Editing by Lisa Shumaker

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