Bernard F. Powell Obituary
BELLEAIR SHORES - Bernard F. Powell, died at his home in Belleair Shores on Thursday, August 21, 2008. He was 96. Visitation will be at Sylvan-Abbey in the evening on Thursday, September 4th from 6 to 8 p.m. A funeral mass will be held Friday, September 5th at 10:30 a.m. at St. St. Cecelia’s Catholic Church, Friday, 820 Jasmine Way, Clearwater.
Powell was preceded in death by his parents, Robert M. Powell and Anna Mae Dillon Powell; his sisters Katherine Powell Morse and Nora Mae Peabody; his brother, Robert Powell; and his daughter, Christy Powell Higgins. He is survived by his wife Mary Ann Forster Powell, two daughters Kathy Powell Strong of Belleair and Susan Powell Travis of California; one son, Bernard Christopher Powell of Maui, Hawaii; grandchildren Jordan and Gabriel Higgins, Matthew Archangeli, Jeffrey Archangeli and Elizabeth Archangeli Post, and Laura Gemignani and great-grandchildren, Nicolai, Leo, Oliver, Madeline, Gabriel and Alexander.
Powell was a graduate of Detroit Law School and passed the Michigan Bar at age 22. He was an Associate in three time Governor Alex Groesbeck's law firm and the youngest attorney ever to argue a case in the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1946 he and his sister, Nora Mae Peabody, and another investor, Broadway producer, Roger Stevens, bought the Belleview Biltmore Hotel in Belleair that had been used by the Army during World War II for $500,000. Powell eventually became the sole owner. He renovated the structure and achieved 4 Star Mobile Award Resort status. In 1990, Powell sold the hotel for 27.5 million.
His memberships and affiliations within the community included, St. Cecelia’s Catholic Church, Carlouel Yacht Club and Belleair Country Club. He was an Emeritus member of the Board of Directors of the Morton Plant Mease Foundation.
Holly Duncan, president of the Morton Plant Mease Foundation said, "Bernie and Mary Ann Powell are the largest Benefactors in the history of Morton Plant Mease Foundation. They are affectionately called the “Patriarch and Matriarch” of Morton Plant Hospital. In 1991, in memory of his daughter Christie’s battle with breast cancer, Bernie gave a million dollars for the Powell Cancer Center on the Morton Plant campus and its Cancer Patient Support Services (CaPSS) programming. In 1996, he made a multi-million dollar commitment to the Cheek-Powell Heart and Vascular Center of that same campus. In 2004, in response to a growing need for childcare for nurses on the hospital campus, Bernie made a gift to establish the Mary Ann and Bernard F. Powell Child Care Center and Learning Center at Morton Plant."
Mr. Powell was the first recipient of the Clearwater Regional Chamber's Lifetime Achievement Mr. Clearwater Award.
In 1993 for their philanthropic support, Powell and his wife Mary Ann received the Morton Plant Mease Foundation’s Golden Flame Award and also the Philanthropy Award from the University of Detroit Jesuit High School.
Powell’s philanthropy extended far beyond Morton Plant Mease. He helped fund the Salvation Army and its Mallory-Powell Social Services Center, and has generously donated to: Ruth Eckerd Hall, Abilities, UPARC, the Chi Chi Rodriguez Youth Foundation, Eckerd Family Youth Alternatives, Neighborly Care Network, Covenant House Florida, Hospice of the Florida Suncoast and the Kimberly Home in addition to both St. Brendan and St Cecelia Catholic parishes.
In his native Michigan, his charitable giving benefitted: the Caring House at Duke Cancer Center, Northern Michigan Hospital Foundation, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Boysville of Michigan and the Hospice of Little Traverse. His investment in educational institutions included the University of Detroit Jesuit High School, University of Detroit Mercy College and Randolph–Macon Women’s College.
Powell's generosity to the community will continue for many years to come as he and his wife have provided for continuous gifts to be made to area charities ad infinitum through their Powell Foundation.
Return to Current Edition