TULSA, Oklahoma - Joniece Frank, one-time owner of Frankoma Pottery, died Wednesday, September 30. The 77-year-old Sapulpa resident was the daughter of John and Grace Lee Frank, the pottery's founders.

She was also an artist and designer who was named the Oklahoma Businesswoman of the year in 1977.

Joniece took over the operation of the company in 1973 after the death of her father. She retained ownership until it was sold in 1991, then stayed on with the new owners until leaving the pottery in 1997. The company went through several changes in ownership until it was closed and auctioned off in 2011.

"In its heyday in the '70s and '80s, there were close to 200 employees," said Kandy McClendon Steeples, operations and general manager for Frankoma Pottery. "Joniece was always very personable. She knew everybody's name, knew your family and always stopped to talk."

The company, best known for its dinnerware that took themes and colors from the Oklahoma countryside, also produced figurines, decorator and advertising pieces throughout the years. John Frank started the company in 1933, and Steeples said she thought Joniece would most like to be remembered for keeping her father's legacy alive. 

The pottery always was made by hand in Oklahoma, Steeples said. Production never became automated - a fact that made Joniece proud, according to her friend and former employee.

Joniece and her sister Donna produced another line of pottery, Frank X 2, after the death of Grace Lee Frank in 1996. Frankoma is still being produced under the name Frankoma Pottery Company, which is predominately Internet-based. Steeples works for that incarnation of Frankoma as well.

"I hope to keep the Frank X 2 pieces in production," she said.

At Joniece Frank's request, there will be no funeral service. Her obituary can be read at Smith Funeral Home.