She’s been (mostly) retired for over two decades, yet Mary Alice Powell said that she still spends time every day doing what she made her living at for 41 years— writing.
Nearing 90, Powell has forged a literary and culinary legacy that is unmatched in Northwest Ohio. She created the Food Editor position at the Toledo Blade in 1954, and for the next four decades covered the latest in recipes and eateries throughout the area. Looking back, she said she has nothing but fond memories of her work with The Blade.
“I just loved every calorie, I guess you could say,” Powell said with a laugh. “I really, truly enjoyed it. There was no bad part about food writing, to me anyway.”
Over the course of her career, Powell brought a seasoned and entertaining gaze to an ever-changing culinary landscape, both at home and while dining out. New food trends. People having less time to cook, and craving simpler recipes. The rise of men— gasp!— actually learning to cook for themselves. Through it all, Powell says, the stories of people were as crucial to her work as the food itself.
“I think food is interesting. It can be entertaining. It’s more than just a necessity to me. And I met great, great people. I used to go out into the fields and into the orchards and talk to people, eat their apple pie and peach dumplings and all that. And I just had a good time,” Powell said.
Even at this stage of her life, Powell is hardly slowing down. She still writes a regular column for the Blade while living in Grand Rapids, OH with her two cats. Powell said she’s staying as busy as ever.
“Now that I’m a senior senior, cruises appeal to me, of course. But life is good.”
What do you admire in people?
I admire honesty. That would be number one. Honesty and hard work.
What is your pet peeve?
When it comes to eating out, one of my pet peeves is to read all these glorious descriptions on a menu, and then when it’s served, it doesn’t meet that at all. That’s one of my major pet peeves.
What are the words you live by?
Laugh, I guess. Laughter is one of my things. And good friends.
What advice would you give to the younger you?
Pack up and live in Hawaii for a couple years!
What inspires you now?
At this age, do I need to be inspired?
What is your favorite food?
I love pasta. I like local fish, Lake Erie fish. And I’m crazy about potatoes.
Who do you most admire?
My favorite person in history is Thomas Jefferson.
Something most people don’t know about you?
I like old cars. Classic cars.
Who is someone you’d like to meet?
Melania Trump. I’d like to interview her.
‘‘The Sound of Music,” I love the music.