Kathy Francis died peacefully Monday morning January 13 at her home in Port Townsend after a long battle with cancer. She was lovingly attended by her husband Bob, her brother Carl, her friend Share de Wees and her dedicated hospice nurse. The previous weekend she had said goodbyes to her devoted sons Allen and Craig and (god) daughter Katie.
Kathy was fully engaged in life, whether it be raising her two sons, starting a respite care network in South Seattle, studying for advanced degrees in social work and public administration, exhausting the studio art offerings at Seattle Central Community College, painting plein air with the Weather Or Not Group, or organizing the aesthetics committee at the Quimper Unitarian Church. It seems there was no challenge she faced that she ever backed away from. In Port Townsend where she lived for the last 14 years, she was, perhaps, best known as an artist of great talent. Shortly before she died, she said that her painting life was not about the paintings but the people and relationships. As she said about almost everything she ever did, “it always comes back to the people.”
Kathy was born and raised in Santa Barbara, California to Walter and Katherine Allen. After graduating from high school, she attended Santa Barbara City College and UCSB where she graduated with a degree in Early Childhood Education. She married Bob Francis in 1961 after meeting on a blind date while in high school. From 1964 through 1976, she and Bob lived in Seattle; Fort Collins, Colorado; and Encinitas, California. Their two sons, Walter Allen and Andrew Craig, were born in 1967 and 1970 respectively. She was an incredible stay-at-home mom from 1967 – 1976. Then, in 1976, the whole family embarked on an epic journey through the South Pacific to Wellington, New Zealand where they lived for nearly 3 years and where Kathy earned a two year advanced degree in Social Work. On returning to the U.S. in 1980, they settled in Seattle where they subsequently lived for 25 years.
On retiring from paid work at age 58, Kathy began studies in art and subsequently established herself as a landscape (en plein air) painter. Always open to learning new approaches and techniques, she studied with master artists Bill Elston (Seattle) Whitney Abbott (Santa Barbara) and Diane Ainsworth (Port Townsend). As a spinoff from Diane’s weekly landscape painting workshop, she started Weather Or Not, a group of plein air artists who painted together weekly for more than a decade. At various times she was a member of Gallery 9, PT Gallery, and the Artist Showcase at the Northwind Arts Center. Kathy’s paintings are currently on display at Quimper Unitarian Church as well as in the lobby of Jefferson Healthcare Medical Center in Port Townsend
Kathy is survived by her husband Bob, two sons, Allen and Craig, of Seattle and Olympia respectively, (god) daughter Katie Welsh of Seattle, brother Carl Allen of Port Townsend, and grandchildren Nathan, Sophia, Elizabeth and Lachlan. In addition she became a surrogate parent or grandparent for numerous young people growing up in her midst. In this regard, she is probably best known for the young teenaged boys whom she taught to play “cribbage with a loose tongue.”
There will be a memorial service for Kathy at Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in the spring. In lieu of flowers, please make memorial contributions to the Port Townsend winter warming shelter (Jefferson Interfaith Action Coalition), the Jeanette Best Memorial Fund at the Northwind Arts Center or the Jefferson Healthcare Foundation.