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Celebrity Death

John Powless’s Cause of Death Relates to Long-Time Illness


Unfortunately, the former head coach of the Wisconsin Badgers men’s basketball team passed away. John Powless’s cause of death is confirmed as a long illness.

Coach John Powless died at home on Thursday, May 20, at the age of 88. He was one of the world’s top-ranked senior tennis players. He owned John Powless Tennis Center on Madison’s west side for over four decades.

Paul Fanlund, Cap Times editor and publisher, said: “John lived a rich and incredible life on his terms, playing tennis at every prominent venue around the world and developing personal friendships with legends like Arthur Ashe, Bob Knight, Oscar Robertson and Althea Gibson.”

John Powless died after battling long-time illness

Paul Fanlund and John Powless were friends and tennis partners for decades. Fanlund added: “At heart, John was an earnest man who was a deeply loyal and sincere friend, a person who lived with optimism and resiliency until his last day.”

Powless never lost regular-season singles or doubles match. He achieved the Ohio Valley conference singles championship during all three seasons he played.

According to Cap Times Madison sports, he shared the conference doubles championship three years in a row and later became a charter member of the Murray State Hall of Fame for tennis.

John Powless Medison WI’s Book

John D. Powless was born on August 24, 1932, in Flora, Illinois. His parents and his hometown played important roles in his development as an accomplished athlete.

In 2016, a book was titled “John Powless: A Life Well Played,” local author Dan Smith drew Powless’s life from humble beginnings in southern Illinois.

Dan Smith wrote that Powless was modest about his successes. He was a standout three-sport athlete during high school and was a basketball star and tennis player at Murray State.

Smith also wrote that he played on virtually every tennis surface in the world, including those on the White House grounds at the time Ronald Reagan was president and the emperor of Japan, from his small fields in Flora to the Queensland grass courts of the Tennis Centre in Brisbane, Australia.

Coach John Powless’s Cause of Death Revealed as an Illness

It is confirmed that John Powless’s illness led him to death. He was head coach of the UW tennis team for five years. He also coached the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team between 1969-1976 and coached nine NBA draft choices, the most in program history.

The legend attained the number one ranking in the (International Tennis Federation) ITF‘s rankings of the 75 and older, 80 and older, and 85 and older categories. John D. Powless was the top-ranked senior player in the 85 and older category as recently as 2018.

John Powless was probably most comfortable just hitting tennis balls for all those accomplishments. Despite four knee surgeries and several operations to fix injuries, he continued training every day he could for the next tournament in the next city, Dan Smith said.

“Despite his awards and accomplishments, his family and friends will remember John as a man who passionately cared for others. He was a father and grandfather first and a great friend to many all over the world,” Smith added.

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Reactions to John Powless’s Death

Following this tragic news, several fans, friends, and supporters reacted and stated their condolences on social media websites.

Basketball coach John Powless has died after an illness

Tom Oates wrote on Twitter: “Sad to report that former #Badgers basketball coach John Powless has passed away. A wonderfully nice man who I’m pretty sure knew everyone on Earth.”

Coach John Powless died of an illness at 88

One of his fans wrote: “John Powless was @BadgerMBB coach from 1968 to 1976. He had just 2 winning seasons, but a bunch of memorable players: Clarence Sherrod, Al Henry, Leon Howard, Kim and Kerry Hughes, Gary Anderson, Dale Koehler, Marcus McCoy, Lamont Weaver, Gary Watson, Lee Oler.”

For tributes and prayers, please kindly scroll down and use the comment box to share your feelings about the heartbreaking news. The family needs privacy; please respect them during this difficult time.

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  1. Don Walker May 21, 2021

    This is sad day for the friends of one of the good guys. I was fortunate to have played with John on the Flora, Illinois high school tennis and basketball teams back in the 1950’s . He has always been a gentleman and had a knack for lifting the better spirit of those around him.

    1. US day News May 22, 2021

      John Powless’s death breaks so many hearts. So sorry for your loss. You were really lucky that you had spent time with this wonderful man. Our deepest condolences to you and his family. May his soul rest in peace.


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