Bruce R. Powers of North Tonawanda, a widely acclaimed writer, educator and consultant in the communications field, died Tuesday in Sisters Hospital after a brief illness. He was 84.
Mr. Powers helped pioneer the development of the communications field in Western New York and was instrumental in establishing the communications studies program at Niagara University.
Born in Brooklyn, he was a graduate of Manhasset High School.
He served in the Navy during World War II as a member of the Naval Combat Demolition Units and Underwater Demolition Team 31, predecessors to the modern Navy SEALs. During his military service, Mr. Powers saw action on Guam, Marianas Islands. In addition to his underwater demolition skills, he also worked as a radio-cartographer.
In 1946, he was honorably discharged as a carpenter's mate third class.
While Powers studied at the University of Connecticut, he worked as an announcer and station engineer for New London radio station, WNLC.
He transferred to Brown University, where he completed his undergraduate education in 1951. After completing his bachelor's degree, Mr. Powers was recruited to serve as a European field officer in the Central Intelligence Agency, from 1951 to 1955.
Following his work with the CIA, Mr. Powers began practical training in the communications industry that influenced his instructional philosophy as a media professor.
He worked as a reporter for NBC, Movietone and the United Press Association and interviewed luminaries including former President Harry Truman, former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and Marilyn Monroe.
After working with news organizations, Mr. Powers entered the advertising and public relations fields, working with a succession of agencies.
He then returned to Brown University, where he earned an master's in English literature and began his career as a college professor.
From 1963 to 1967, Mr. Powers taught English at Brown, Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in Toronto and Nazareth College, Rochester.
In 1967, Mr. Powers joined the faculty at Niagara University and in 1986 was promoted to associate professor of English and communication studies. During his 25-year tenure at Niagara, Mr. Powers served in many capacities that contributed to the development of the media studies community at NU and the regional communications field.
He founded the Communication Studies Program at Niagara and served as its director from 1973 to 1987. He was also director of Niagara's Film Repertory Center from 1971 to 1992.
In 1971, he was the producer and managing director of the International Experimental Film Festival in Buffalo -- an event that was sponsored by the New York State Council on the Arts.
He and longtime friend and collaborator, Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan, co-authored "The Global Village: Transformations in World Life and Media in the 21st Century." Mr. Powers served as a research associate at McLuhan's Center for Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto from 1977 to 1981.
Mr. Powers retired from NU as a full-time professor in 1992.
In retirement, he was the narrator for the WNED production of the Niagara Falls documentary, "Fading in the Mist."
Mr. Powers was a parishioner of St. Albert the Great Parish, predecessor to the current St. Jude the Apostle Parish in North Tonawanda. He served as a lector, extraordinary minister and a member of the parish choir.
Survivors include his wife of 42 years, Dolores Dawson Powers; a son, Petty Officer Christopher D.; and a daughter, Patricia E.
A funeral service will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday in Amigone Funeral home, 2600 Sheridan Drive, Town of Tonawanda.
A memorial Mass will be offered at 10 a.m. May 12 in St. Jude the Apostle Parish, North Tonawanda.