What I Know: Dexter Powell

The butler at the Governor’s Residence has now worked for seven first families, including the Pences.

AGE: “Mature”  GIG: Butler at the Governor’s Residence, responsible for greeting guests, leading tours, and putting in storm windows.  STATE TREASURE: Powell has now worked for seven first families, including the Pences.

Each first lady totally changes the house around. One first lady loved antiques. Another liked everything new, so we had everything just about new, from the basement to the attic.

Contrary to popular belief, there are many butlers here. It’s just kept quiet, and they go under different titles.

There have been other butlers, about 15 before me. But I’ve held the position the longest, about 22 years.

I’ve learned to stay out of the spotlight. You last much longer.

You only have two reasons for missing church: working or dead. And so I apply the same principle on the job. You only have two reasons for missing: dead or sick.

Even the blizzard of ’78, when they shut down the city, I went to work. And they looked at me and said, “What are you doing here? There’s a blizzard out there, Dexter.” I said, “I’m scheduled to work today. That’s why I’m here.”

I’ve had three Sagamores of the Wabash, and Governor Daniels presented me a Distinguished Hoosier Award. That was one of the greatest moments of my life.

Daniels could be the best president and get a balanced budget and all. He was one of the number-one contenders. But he put his family first.

I love entertaining our guests. I love to see the glow in their eyes and the smile on their face and hear the roar of their laughter. That tells me right there, “Dexter, you’ve done a good job.”

How much longer? Hopefully at least eight more years.

—as told to Keith Roach


Tickle the ivories of the instrument made and donated by Walter Piano Company in Elkhart.

Handle with care the collection of 1896 Tiffany & Co. silverware used on the USS Indianapolis.

Go nuts posing with the giant squirrel in the yard, carved from an oak stump with a chainsaw.





Photo by Tony Valainis

This article appeared in the March 2013 issue.