Longtime Daily News columnist Frances R. Powell, known to legions of readers as The Diva, died Sunday morning at home. She was 81.

Powell, who for 30 years wrote The Daily News’ society column, died after several weeks at a University of Texas Medical Branch hospital, said Susan Criss, whose mother was Powell’s cousin.

Powell had been ill for several weeks, she said. Criss wasn’t sure what Powell had been sick with but confirmed it was not COVID-19.

“She was just fun,” Criss said. “She was just truly fun to be around.”

Powell joined The Daily News in the mid-1980s selling ads for the now defunct In Between magazine and soon began writing a society column, using her vast social connections.

Powell, known as Galveston's resident diva, spent decades filling her social calendar with weddings, galas, fundraisers and theatrical productions and writing about the events and the island characters who attended them.

A native Galvestonian and a graduate of Ursuline Academy, Powell is the parent of four adult children — Mel Jr., Stephanie, Andrew and Kathryn — and three stepchildren — Paige, Drew and Shawnne — with her husband, Don, former director of medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch, perhaps better known to readers of her unique vernacular as “Docshop Medhead.”

Powell became known for her creative vernacular to describe aspects of Galveston, such as "Our Sunny Sandbar" for the island itself, "Docshop" for the medical branch and "The Baby Apple" for the city of Galveston.

“Frances was an absolute treasure to our family and to this island,” Criss said. “She was generous and she had a wonderful heart and she cared about people. I think that’s what made her such a good columnist. She cared about people and she loved this island.”

Powell retired her column in 2019. 

Check the Tuesday edition of The Daily News for a full story.

Keri Heath: 409-683-5241; or on Twitter @HeathKeri. 



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(2) comments

James Lippert

May Frances RIP.

Raymond Lewis

Sad to see this.

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