Margery Smith Briggs

Music professor, caring friend

Margery Smith Briggs, a longtime Pomona College professor, died on May 17, 2014. She was 98.   

Mrs. Briggs was born on May 29, 1915 in Nampa, Idaho to John Herman Smith and Carrie Mae Shawger. In 1936, she earned bachelor’s degrees in music education, voice and piano at Chicago Musical College, from which she also earned a master’s degree in piano.

She was a professor of music at Pomona College for over 40 years, teaching voice, piano and music theory. Over the years, Mrs. Briggs would accompany her voice students and see many of them go on to enjoy highly successful careers in music. An accomplished soprano and pianist, she also performed widely in both disciplines throughout the area and beyond.

Mrs. Briggs loved her longtime post at Pomona College. “Pomona made the teaching of music worthwhile,” she shared in a 2001 edition of Pomona College Magazine.

“We shared opinions as to what music was, what we were supposed to do with it and how we were supposed to teach it,” she related. “The department was a real meeting of minds. It produced some remarkable students and some remarkable teaching.”

Mrs. Briggs embarked on another meeting of the minds when she married Stuart Richardson Briggs in 1943. Mr. Briggs was dean of men and accounting department chairman at Claremont Men’s College (now Claremont McKenna College) before retirement. The couple loved to travel the world, learning about many differing cultures.  

Mrs. Briggs gathered numerous friends, many of whom were former voice and piano students, who will miss the joy of joining her in conversation over world affairs and current events. She was blessed with an active and informed mind until she died.  

She is survived by three nieces, Jo Ann Sheldon (Oren) of Torrance, Susan Durant of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and Carolyn Norberg (Jack) of Mission Viejo and their families.  

At Mrs. Briggs’ request there will be no public service.  Donations in her memory may be sent to: Donald Pattison, Director of Donor Relations, Alexander Hall #239, Pomona College, 550 N. College Ave., Claremont, California 91711. It is important to note in the check memo “For the use of the Music Department.”



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