The late Detroit personal development instructor and life coach, best known for her work with Motown Records, was memorialized on Friday during a two-hour funeral at Hartford Memorial Baptist Church.
"She would have loved it," the Supremes' Mary Wilson said afterward. "She would have been very proud."
Wilson, the Velvelettes' Cal Street and Motown Museum chairman Robin Terry were among the 100-plus on hand for a service overseen by the Rev. Charles C. Adams, with a eulogy given by his father and Powell's pastor, the Rev. Charles G. Adams.
Also on hand were Motown arranger Paul Riser, singer Caroline Crawford and members of the Contours. Crawford (Precious Lord) and Street (His Eye Is on the Sparrow) performed during the service and the recessional (Going Up Yonder).
Friends fondly remembered Powell as a woman who lived the class and elegance she taught for a living, hailing her as a figure who helped shape Motown's public image - and thus, the image of black America writ large. Among her private students was future Miss USA Carole Gist.
They also emphasized that the elderly Powell never stopped teaching, still instructing young women on the proper way to sit, speak and exit cars. Even ahead of her death Monday at Southfield's Providence Hospital, Powell, 98, was distributing her business cards to hospital personnel.
The cause of Powell's death was not disclosed, but close friend Beverly Bantom said Powell had been in steadily declining health since a fall on May 31. Powell slipped into a coma Saturday at the hospital.
In a prayer Friday, the Rev. Charles C. Adams said God had used Powell "to smooth out the rough edges in your sons and daughters."
Diana Ross' youngest sister, Rita Ross, read a public statement issued by her famous sibling, noting that "the wisdom she shared with me and all of the young artists at Motown will never be forgotten." Terry relayed thoughts from her great-uncle and Motown founder, Berry Gordy Jr.
A resolution from Detroit City Council, presented by councilwoman Brenda Jones, celebrated Powell as "a pioneer of black enterprise in Detroit" for her modeling and finishing-school endeavors. The City Council also celebrated Powell's activism in helping to racially integrate the modeling rosters at Detroit auto shows.
Wilson recounted Powell's work with the teenage Supremes, whose stage moves and self-confidence she helped refine.
"We all were touched by this woman's knowledge of the gifts that God gave us," said Wilson.
WDIV-TV (Channel 4) reporter Paula Tutman had attendees chuckling with her tale of Powell's final TV interview, conducted by Tutman after the infamous Miley Cyrus twerking performance at August's MTV Video Music Awards. Tutman said Powell was dismayed by the young pop star's "booty" display and sternly advised Cyrus to mind herself.
Beverly Bantom, a close friend who was frequently at Powell's side in recent years, spoke of her friend's upbeat spirit through her final days, including her signature voice mail greeting: "Hello, beautiful person!"
Also in attendance were representatives of local organizations that boasted Powell's membership, including the Detroit Lions Club and the Red Hat Society, a women's auxiliary whose members served as flower bearers for the day.
Burial followed at Detroit's Woodlawn Cemetery, with a reception scheduled afterward at the Roostertail Club - an event planned by Powell herself, in one final salute to fine living.