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Farewell to Our Friend, Fran Zimniuch

He died at age 66 of COVID-19 complications.




Fran Zimniuch, 1954 – 2020

The entire team at SmartWork Media is heartbroken to announce the passing of our long-time team member and friend, Fran Zimniuch, on Dec. 17. Fran died of COVID-19 complications.

As East Coast Sales Manager for INSTORE, Fran was a pillar of SmartWork Media, having started with the company in 2004. Over the years, he was a personality who helped define our character – honest, sincere, big-hearted, earnest and loving.

All of us at SmartWork Media will cherish his memory and continue his legacy in his spirit.

Goodbye, Fran. Rest in peace.

Fran Zimniuch baseball writing

In addition to his work in the jewelry industry, Fran was a baseball historian, writing numerous books about the sport he loved. Here he shows off a bookshelf full of his baseball writings.

Matthijs Braakman, CEO SmartWork Media: “I am forever grateful to Fran for his friendship. Our time together was filled with many years of laughter and celebration. His devotion to his friends and the team at SmartWork Media (INSTORE) was the definition of loyalty. He carried his heart on his sleeve and would give anything to his friends even if he didn’t have it. I’m grateful for his influence on my life. He will be in my memories – always.”

Dan Kisch, Director of the Board, SmartWork Media: “I met Fran in 2004, months after joining INSTORE. We needed someone to take over the East Coast sales territory. I called industry legend Charlie Bond for a recommendation and, without hesitation, he said we should talk to Fran Zimniuch. I called Fran and never looked back as it was one of the best pieces of advice I have ever gotten from a colleague.

“Fran was an inspired seller. People just naturally wanted to buy from him. But he was way more than that. Fran was a person that up or down, good times or bad, you would always want to be around. His sincerity, caring, kindness and wonderful sense of humor made you feel that the bad could be survived and the good will only get better. He was loyal to a fault and gave 110% of himself to those he loved.

“Fran didn’t have clients, he had friends. He deeply enjoyed spending time with them. Nothing made him happier than being with colleagues at industry dinners from Atlanta to New York to Las Vegas. He thrived on his friendships and his friends thrived on him.

“Above all, Fran was gracious. Not a year went by that he didn’t thank me for hiring him. And not a year went by that I wasn’t thankful that I had. Fran was at the core of our success in so many ways. He was, quite simply, part of our family. He will be deeply missed.”

Fran Zimniuch and co-workers

Fran loved his colleagues like family. Here he’s pictured with two of his favorite co-workers, INSTORE advertising sales director Krista Collins (right) and former ad salesperson Jill Jarmel (left).

David Squires, Group Editorial Director, SmartWork Media: “Losing Fran is a tremendous shock and loss for all of us at INSTORE and SmartWork Media, both professionally and personally. Jewelry week in Las Vegas will never be the same without him making us laugh to the point of tears with hilarious rants and his often self-lacerating sense of humor. I will miss his deeply comic view of the world and his friendship, but most of all, I will miss his beautiful, wide open heart. My guess is that, in Fran’s version of heaven, it’s always 1980 or 2008, and a ballgame is just about to start, with Fran on his porch with a drink in hand and a championship Phillies team about to rout their opponents. Rest peacefully, my friend.”

Trace Shelton, Editor-in-Chief, INSTORE: “Fran was so much more than a colleague to so many of us. He was a close friend, and I looked forward to seeing him at every jewelry trade event. Fran and I started at SmartWork Media at basically the same time. We shared so many conversations, meals, cigars, drinks, triumphs and failures together over the past 16 years. He was funny to a fault, and always in a self-deprecating way. We always looked forward to our annual lunch with Evan James Deutsch in Las Vegas, and especially to our yearly gathering at the close of the show for drinks and a journey over to Bugsy’s Bar at The Flamingo. We had an annual bet on his Philadelphia Eagles vs. my Dallas Cowboys — the stakes were drinks, of course, for which he almost always paid regardless of which team won. He was also one of my biggest cheerleaders professionally — but then, I think all of those who knew him would probably say he did the same for them.

“Simply put, Fran was a fantastic human being who loved his coworkers like family. I will miss him terribly.”

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