Remembering Frances Smersh, artist and Click! Design That Fits co-founder, 1967-2021

Six years after Click! Design That Fits co-founders John and Frances Smersh announced that Frances had been diagnosed with young-onset Alzheimer’s, Frances has died. Here is the remembrance her family is sharing:

Frances Suzanne (Cousins) Smersh passed away on September 4th, 2021 at the age of 54, in Seattle. She died from complications of Younger Onset Alzheimer’s Disease, which she was diagnosed with six and a half years prior. She is survived by her husband, John Francis Smersh of Seattle, and sister Natalie Cousins-Robledo (husband Ted Robledo, son Enzo) of Pasadena, CA.

Frances was born in the Greater Los Angeles area, where she lived with her mother, father, grandmother, and sister. After graduating from St. Joseph High School, she studied at Loyola Marymount University, earning her degree in Sociology in 1989. It was there at LMU that Frances met her partner for life, John. After college they lived in Venice Beach, CA for two years. They married in 1990 and moved to Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood in 1991, where she started her first business, Smersh Design Jewelry. The couple moved to West Seattle in 1994 and bought a home in the North Admiral neighborhood.

Living in West Seattle, Frances continued to explore the art of jewelry making, first designing and creating and then selling her pieces at art fairs before expanding to wholesale markets, eventually selling her work in hundreds of stores across the US and internationally. Her passion for art and design flourished over the years, leading her to expand and innovate her jewelry using unconventional materials like Concrete and Pearls, Cork, and Powder Coated Steel to make exquisite, wearable art.

In 2004, it was Frances’s creative spark that inspired Click! Design That Fits, a contemporary gift and accessory boutique co-created and curated by herself and husband, John. In 2010 they moved the store to the West Seattle Junction, where it continues to thrive today.

Following her successes in jewelry, Frances transitioned to creating visual art through painting and sketching, regularly showing as the featured artist at Click!. Her catalog of work is vast and diverse, and has garnered a great deal of attention within the Seattle art-loving community.

Above all else, Frances had an inspiring, uplifting, and giving soul and she always went out of her way to bring joy to the people around her. All who knew her were touched by her kindness and she will be greatly missed.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Washington State chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Services will be held in late September. Updates will be made to the Caring Bridge journal as details are finalized.

The Smershes shared Frances’s journey with her community; five years after moving their shop (WSB’s longest-running sponsor) to The Junction, they shared the news of her diagnosis at just 48. They shared this update in 2018, and Frances was able to attend an exhibit of her work at Providence Mount St. Vincent in early 2020, just before the pandemic.

24 Replies to "Remembering Frances Smersh, artist and Click! Design That Fits co-founder, 1967-2021"

  • Keri September 5, 2021 (12:00 pm)

    This is so heartbreaking to read, especially as I’ve wondered so often how she was doing.  Hope that John feels the community support.  

  • Anw September 5, 2021 (12:05 pm)

    Heartbreaking. Love to John, the Smersh family and friends. Frances will be missed by many. May she rest in peace.

  • ws resident September 5, 2021 (12:13 pm)

    so very sorry to hear this news.i recall click!’s early years in north admiral and have shopped at the junction store since its move.sending thoughts to her family. may she rest in peace.

  • cass & lynn September 5, 2021 (12:25 pm)

    A light has gone out. Frances was the embodiment of fierce joy and love of life, and we miss her terribly. Thank you for posting this, WSB.

  • R2 September 5, 2021 (12:31 pm)

    Oh, this is such sad news! I think of her every time I pass by the store. My heart aches for her husband, and all who held her dear. I hope with her passing there is some peace.A little light in West Seattle has gone out.

  • TTT September 5, 2021 (1:06 pm)

    I had wondered how she was doing over the years. So sorry to read that she passed due to Alzheimer’s. My Aunt has early onset Alzheimer’s and it is a tragic so see happening to a loved one. My condolences to her husband and family.

  • JJ September 5, 2021 (1:17 pm)

    The world has lost an incredible person. I remember meeting Francis in the store before her diagnosis. She was so graceful and kind. After her diagnosis, I remained in awe of her strength and grace. It must have taken Herculean efforts, but John and company, thank you for allowing us to be part of your journey. I am terribly sorry for your loss. Wishing you peace and healing. 

  • flimflam September 5, 2021 (1:37 pm)

    Very sad. May her family find comfort and peace.

  • Justin & James September 5, 2021 (3:21 pm)

    Our deepest condolences to John and Natalie. We’ve always loved shopping at Click! and we’ll continue to support John.

  • Christopher Boffoli September 5, 2021 (3:30 pm)

    Such sad news. What a remarkable person Frances was. I consider it a privilege to have known her. Despite the considerable challenges of that cruel disease, I love that her instinct to be creative was undiminished. Much of the news I see here in the WSB can be frustrating for it is a daily reminder of all those who cheat, steal and commit violence against one another. But then there are people like Frances who, with their own quiet dignity, completely counter it with the positivity they bring, leaving our community indelibly changed in her wake. What a wonderful legacy she leaves.

  • Leslie September 5, 2021 (4:31 pm)

    So sorry to hear, John and family in our thoughts.  What you built and Frances’ journey and your sharing it are truly inspirational.  Will cherish my pieces even more.  May the wind be at your backs.

  • Jan smith September 5, 2021 (5:21 pm)

    John Paul & I send our deep condolences from Saltspring, We are thinking of you and family and sending support.   I look back with fondest memories at the times we shared in the studio on Jackson when I lived in Seattle. Talk of art, hockey ( Francis’s passion) and of course great food & gardening….was a wonderful time!  We hope to see you here, perhaps for a paddle.  All our support Jan & Paul

  • Peter September 5, 2021 (8:22 pm)

    Very sorry to hear. Click! Is one of those stores you always have to stop into, just to see what they’ve come up with. What a heartbreak. 

  • sc September 5, 2021 (8:39 pm)

    I Am Standing Upon The Seashore.

    “I am standing upon the seashore. A ship, at my side,spreads her white sails to the moving breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength.I stand and watch her until, at length, she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.Then, someone at my side says, “There, she is gone”Gone where?Gone from my sight. That is all. She is just as large in mast,hull and spar as she was when she left my side.And, she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.Her diminished size is in me — not in her.And, just at the moment when someone says, “There, she is gone,”there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout, “Here she comes!”
    – Henry Van Dyke

  • Scubafrog September 5, 2021 (10:06 pm)

    I’m so sorry to read this.  My most heartfelt condolences go out to  John and family.  She was a remarkable woman, and a true inspiration through her illness, and prior.   May she rest well, and may much love, peace and happiness find the rest of the family during this difficult time.

  • Blbl September 5, 2021 (10:12 pm)

    I’m so sorry to hear this terrible news. She was such a wonderful part of the community. 

  • AML September 6, 2021 (4:42 am)

    My heart goes out to the Click family.  So sorry to hear this.   My heartfelt condolences go out to your family. May she be in a more peaceful place.

  • TRG September 6, 2021 (9:19 am)

    So incredibly sorry to hear this horrible news. Condolences to John and the Smersh family. 

  • Misha September 6, 2021 (9:19 am)

    My heart goes out to John, their family, and the whole Click team. I will wear Frances’ jewelry proudly in her memory.

  • MK September 6, 2021 (10:51 am)

    I’m sad to hear it. She’s an important part of the Junction neighborhood. My condolences to her family. 

  • Cindy Erber-Agen September 6, 2021 (10:52 am)

    May her memory be a blessing. 

  • Allison September 6, 2021 (5:04 pm)

    I echo the words written here–Frances was a creative spirit and a kind soul.  She was always a champion of Art Walk and of our West Seattle community.  What happened to her was simply not fair, and yet she carried on with a positive attitude.  Sending my love to John and the rest of her family.  I’m so sorry you had to go through this.

  • West Seattle lite September 7, 2021 (4:57 pm)

    This was terribly difficult news to read. We’ve been going to Click! since it’s early days in North Admiral and admired Frances’ and John’s shop, but especially Frances’ jewelry, of which my wife has a few pieces. Frances and John were always so kind and helpful. We continued to see Frances around West Seattle this past year and admired her art that was in the shop. Heartfelt condolences to the family. Frances will be missed. 

  • jeff September 8, 2021 (9:19 pm)

    Frances and I would talk about her designs whenever I visited the store. We talked jewelry and later, her paintings. She always took time to share her latest creative endeavors. I will miss those conversations. Thank you.

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