Cover photo for Sheree Powless's Obituary
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1943 Sheree 2024

Sheree Powless

December 7, 1943 — April 30, 2024


Sheree Powless passed away from complications of kidney disease on April 30, 2024, surrounded by family and friends at UW Hospital. She was 80 years old.


Born December 7, 1943, Sheree was the only child of Jack and Izzy Williams, of Wauconda, Illinois. Her small-town childhood included summer days at Bangs Lake, rounds of golf at Pistakee, small jobs around her dad’s insurance office, trips into Chicago on the train and frequent visits with her father’s extended family. Annual trips to her mother’s native northern Indiana family farm cemented a love for cousins and nature. She spent two years at Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, before earning her degree in Sociology at UW-Madison, following in the footsteps of her Badger alum father and grandfather.


Sheree met future husband John Powless as an undergrad when he unwittingly stole her 1962 Ford Galaxy. Instead of pressing charges, she agreed to go on a date. Upon graduating from UW, Sheree spent a favorite year of her life in New York City working for her best friend’s family’s menswear business, bookkeeping and helping choose fabrics and styles. Her affection for the city never waned, but she returned to Madison and in 1967 married Powless, then UW Men’s head tennis coach and assistant basketball coach. 


The couple welcomed their son, Jason, in 1970. In addition to raising Jason, Sheree honed a skill set ranging from UW team mother to top booster, whether the day called for whipping up 20 pounds of mashed potatoes for the boys, helping paint and redecorate the Fieldhouse locker room, or chauffeuring for recruiting trips around the Midwest. When her then-husband’s coaching days ended, Sheree focused her administrative skills on tennis, first at Cherokee Country Club in northeast Madison, then in 1979 helping start the John Powless Tennis Center on Madison’s west side. Sheree’s presence continued at the family business until she retired from day-to-day operations in 2022, a time that yielded beautiful friendships and a strong community.


Sheree was a caring, supportive, loyal and generous friend. She enjoyed playing tennis, traveling, hiking, biking, dining out, movies, magazines, dogs and cars. She cooked a mean lobster, made a great martini, and hosted celebrations with an elegant touch. She loved her eight grandchildren dearly (the feeling was mutual) and shared boatloads of fun with them – epic sleepovers, youth football Saturdays all around Dane County, routine excursions to Madison institutions for both practical needs (Wayne’s Barber Shop) and playful wants (Mallatt’s Pharmacy costume and candy aisles).


She persevered through a serious infection in 2006 and the ensuing antibiotic side effect of compromised balance. She adapted gracefully, trading up for a three-wheeled bike and appreciating the gift of life. As Alzheimer’s disease further limited her in the early 2020s, she exercised her fierce independence and pressed on. 


She will be greatly missed and fondly remembered. In honor of her wishes, memorial services will be private. Her family would like to offer grateful recognition to the staff at UW-Madison Hospitals and Clinics and the staff and friends at Cardinal View Senior Living in Middleton. Memories may be shared at


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