Obituary: Perry Jamieson

Great-grandmother, artist, theater company founder

Perry Jamieson, a former Claremont resident and scenic artist who worked in theater production, died at an assisted living facility in San Luis Obispo, California, where she last resided, on February 6. She was 86 years old. The cause was complications related to kidney disease.

Perry was a Scripps College alumnus, class of 1959. She and her husband Jim worked at the Claremont Colleges for a number of years; She in the theater department at Scripps and he in administration at Pitzer College and Claremont McKenna College. They thoroughly enjoyed living in Claremont where they would raise two sons and develop close, lifelong friendships.

Perry Ann McNaughton was born in July 1937 in San Antonio, Texas. She was the younger of two children of Kenneth McNaughton and Elizabeth (Baskerville) McNaughton. Her father was a 1926 graduate of West Point U.S. Military Academy who started his military career in the newly formed U.S. Army Air Corps, reaching the rank of major general in 1951. Her mother was an accomplished violinist and painter who specialized in watercolor landscapes and portraits. She was especially close to her mother, who came from a large, close-knit family of storytellers, musicians and artists. “She was, by far, Perry’s greatest role model and had a profound influence on shaping Perry’s trajectory in life,” her family shared.

It was her extended family, some of whom had roots in Claremont, that initially drew her to the area. Her uncle, Milliard Sheets, a well-known Southern California regionalist painter and Claremont resident, taught painting at Scripps College, where she enrolled in the fall of 1955. She blossomed during her four years at Scripps, soaking up the rich breadth of knowledge the college’s humanities program had to offer. She earned a bachelor’s degree in art in 1959. During her sophomore year she met James (Jim) Jamieson, who was attending Claremont Graduate School (now Claremont Graduate University), at a dance held in the basement of her dormitory. “We went on a lot of coffee dates, going after dinner for ice cream and coffee. We hit it off right away,” she said when reflecting on their early courtship. They were married at Edwards Air Force Base, near Lancaster, California, in 1959.

“Perry and Jim made a great team,” her family added. “Throughout their marriage they would steadfastly support each other in their career paths, creative interests and individual pursuits.” They moved to California’s Central Coast in 1987, when he was hired as the executive director of the Performing Arts Center San Luis Obispo, which was slated to be built on the Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo campus. While living there, she continued working in theater and co-founded two theater companies, one of which, the Central Coast Shakespeare Festival, continues to thrive to this day.

“Perry was an open-minded, creative and thoughtful person and loved engaging in deep conversations with others,” her family said. “She made friends easily throughout her life. Her many friendships lasted for years.”

She was a longtime member and supporter of Beyond War, a movement that aims to end war and establish a just and sustainable peace through nonviolent means. She was an artist who had several exhibitions of her abstract watercolors at a host of venues in Claremont and the Central Coast. She also excelled in the field of illustration. In her later years, she produced the illustrations for a number of independently published children’s books.

She was preceded in death by her brother, Grant, in 2011 and by her husband, Jim, in 2019.

She is survived by her sons Jeffrey (Deborah) and Dalton (Heather); seven nephews and nieces;  six grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.


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