Walter H. Powell, 92, of Center City, an employees relations specialist, died of heart failure Dec. 2 at Vitas Hospice in Philadelphia.

Mr. Powell had a 65-year career as a lawyer. He was a World War II veteran, corporate and university president, and a labor arbitrator.

In 2004, at 89, he retired as an arbitrator after 27 years. He had decided more than 1,500 disputes between labor and management. His services were used by truckers, steel workers, government employees, the U.S. Postal Service, educational institutions, and private industry.

Mr. Powell was a member of the American Arbitration Association. In 1980 he was elected to the National Academy of Arbitrators.

He postponed retirement, his wife, Dorothy Meyer Powell, said, because he enjoyed problem solving and liked working with people. "He was energetic," she said, "and had enthusiasm for life."

A native of New York City, Mr. Powell earned a bachelor's degree in economics and a law degree from New York University. He enlisted in the Army shortly after Pearl Harbor. He served in the States, and after the war served in Japan during the occupation.

After his discharge, he earned a master's degree in labor relations at the University of Pennsylvania and completed studies toward a doctorate.

In the early 1950s he worked in personnel for the American Razor Co. in Philadelphia and then worked for International Resistance Co. He was the firm's vice president of industrial relations and director of operations in 1969, when he left to become vice president and director of human resources for First Pennsylvania Bank. From 1972 to 1977, he was vice president of human resources at Temple University.

Mr. Powell was active in efforts to improve minority employment, his son Alan said. He was a former member of the Philadelphia Human Relations Commission; served on the boards of the Urban League and Opportunities Industrialization Center; and was co-chairman of the Philadelphia chapter of the National Alliance of Businessmen.

He played squash in his younger days, his wife said, and in recent years he enjoyed relaxing with friends in the pool at the Philadelphian, a condominium complex where he and his wife had lived for the last 13 years.

In addition to his wife of 62 years and son, Mr. Powell is survived by sons Stephen and Lawrence; and a daughter, Lesley.

A memorial service will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. Dec. 21 at Stotesbury Mansion, 1923 Walnut St., Philadelphia.

Contact staff writer Sally A. Downey at 215-854-2913 or sdowney@phillynews.com.