Dama Frances Lumley Bell, a longtime Stratford, Ontario, resident who championed the founding of the theatre festival and later became a board member and tireless advocate, died July 6 at the age of 95, the festival announced. Ms. Bell and her husband, Alf, opened their Stratford home to festival founders, who had many preliminary discussions for what would become one of the world's foremost Shakespearean festivals. Supporting the festival became the major focus of the Bells' lives, according to the festival. Between 1953 and 1977, Ms. Bell traveled thousands of miles across Ontario, her car jammed with costumes and props. She gave lectures on the backstage workings of the theatre in more than 150 locations. In recent years, she acted as an unofficial agent for the sale of design sketches from festival productions, arranging private viewings in her home.
She was a member of the Board of Governors from 1966 and Honorary Secretary 1967-77. She most recently served as a Stratford Festival Senator. In 1979, she and her husband were jointly named as Members of the Order of Canada.
— By Kenneth Jones