Frances Garvin Puccinelli

Date of Birth

March 20, 1951

Date of Death

December 9, 2016

Frances Garvin Puccinelli, age 65, of Santa Barbara, Carpinteria and Ventura, passed away peacefully with her husband Keith Puccinelli and sister Nancy Garvin by her side, from PSP/Parkinson’s Disease, on December 9, 2016 at 8:00pm at Serenity House in Santa Barbara, CA.

Fran Puccinelli was born Frances Richardson Garvin on March 20, 1951 in Lompoc, CA to Frances Harrison Garvin and James R. Garvin. She grew up on the shores of the Pacific Ocean in Santa Barbara and Carpinteria and from an early age was known as a head-strong, energetic, resolved individual set on making her own way in the world, and that she did with much gusto and fortitude. Immediately after graduating Santa Barbara High School in 1969, Franny grabbed her passport and took off for new territory. After a series of adventures, and a few youthful mishaps, she returned home to Padaro Lane to build a life and her community.

From the early 1980s to 2005, Carpinteria was Fran’s entrepreneurial studio and she quickly earned the unofficial title “Mayor of Linden Avenue,” because of the four thriving businesses she created. Her first success was The Deli House known for its homemade soups and sandwiches served with friendly conversation. Before the coffee house craze, she opened The Coffee Grinder and it quickly became a local hotspot and fountain of community activity. It also was a showcase for curiosities and early Latin American folk objects. She loved folk and outsider art and started the Frances Puccinelli Gallery in 1990 where she exhibited artists like Mose Toliver, Howard Finster, and Bessie Smith along side local contemporary artists. SOAP was her last retail venture before retiring, and it continues on under the ownership of Daniel Case.

During her “biz” years, Fran was an active member of the Carpinteria Valley Chamber of Commerce and served as Chair of the Board of Directors in 1988. In 1986, she was one of the local leaders, along with Debbie Murphy, Rob Godfrey, Connie Korbel, Bob Ealee, and John Franklin, who founded the annual California Avocado Festival—an event that celebrated its 30th anniversary last April and now boasts over 110,000 visitors. She assisted in the establishment of the Carpinteria Arts Center and further north she was a diehard supporter of the Contemporary Arts Forum in downtown Santa Barbara. She was a dedicated advocate for small and local business, the arts, and the environment and was involved with dozens of worthy local non-profits and causes including Heal the Ocean, Carpinteria Arts Center, and Girls’ Club.

Behind all forces of nature, Fran had some back up in the form of her artist and designer husband Keith Puccinelli. In April 1983, the two met through a mutual friend at a wedding where Fran was catering. It is reported on good authority, that Fran came to work the next day and said, “I met my future husband last night.” It was a whirlwind courtship and the two married on February 18, 1984. Together, they wove a dynamic web of friendship, creativity, and style they described in a 2012 interview at as “Puccinality, (poo-chin-ality), a free-wheeling yet tasteful stew of modern…meets contemporary… meets folk…Juxtaposition and surprise.” A vibrant style infused with color, joy, grace, and much laughter.

While Franny would never call herself an artist, she was a talented and prolific crafter of textiles, mosaics, and friendships. She was a founding member of the Association of Creative Females (jokingly nicked named the Montecito Hookers), a monthly meeting of women artists who made stunning hooked rugs, pillows, and table runners that can be seen in homes throughout the county. In a recent message from curator and arts advocate Rita Ferri to Keith Puccinelli, she expressed it aptly, “[Fran]. You were the art. You accomplished so much that you exhausted the rest of us. . .No one could keep up with you. . .your great laugh will endure. And did I mention that your sparkling eyes are unforgettable. You were more beautiful with short brown hair than most mermaids with flaxen tresses could ever hope to be. . . Fran, you are just pure love and that will live forever.”

Fran Puccinelli is survived by her husband, love of her life, and partner in crime, artist Keith Puccinelli and their beloved coal black cat Snowball. She also leaves behind her sister Nancy Garvin, nieces Christina Garvin and Mary-Liz Chapman, and grand niece and nephews Taylor Chapman, Kyle James Chapman, Gavin Puccinelli Chapman; sister and brother-in-law Louise and Paul Rosel, niece Frances Rosel and her husband Kevin O’Donnell; nephew Christian Rosel and his wife Elaine Rosel, grand niece Maddie O’Donnell; and brother and sister-in-law Harrison Garvin and Penny Minchin-Garvin, niece Alexandra Lucy Garvin, nephews Bodhi James Garvin, Nik Minchin, and Simon Minchin; sister-in-law Jessica Puccinelli; and a vast and rich network of family, friends, and artists.

At this time no memorial is planned. If you would like to send a message to the family, please contact Keith Puccinelli by mail at: 1409 Portesuello Avenue, Santa Barbara, CA 93105. The family extends special thanks to all those at Hospice of Santa Barbara and Visiting Nurse and Hospice Care of Santa Barbara’s Serenity House. In lieu of flowers please consider making a gift in Fran Puccinelli’s name to these two organizations.


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