Obituary: James Fuller

Father, artist, teacher

James Seeley Fuller died peacefully in his home on November 28, 2017, with his loving family and the warm regard of many friends surrounding him. He was 90 years old.

He was born October 2, 1927, to Howard and Anne Billinghurst Fuller in Pierre, South Dakota. His childhood home was in Fargo. He was one of four beloved siblings, Lucille Fuller Moses, Hiram Fuller and Thaddeus Fuller, all of whom have died.

Mr. Fuller was blessed with a long and productive life in art. He came to California in 1947, attending Chaffey College in Ontario, and studying with Henry McFee. He went to UC Berkeley, where he earned a bachelor’s and then a master’s degree in fine art. He was a painter in oils, watercolor and acrylics and a master printmaker and sculptor. He was always working, his family shared.

The greatest blessing in his life was to find and marry Elizabeth Moses, his family said. She preceded him in death in May 2014. “Liz and Jim were true mates and they both followed the ‘Beauty Way,’” Mr. Fuller’s daughter, Mary, related. “Each day, in their later years together, they would alternate with a kind of invocation: ‘Well, today you do the beauty part.’ Liz was a wonderful artist as well, and together they gave their gifts to the world and as praise and thanksgiving.”

Mr. Fuller was a modest man for all of his gifts, yet he had a wry wit and twinkle in his eye, his family shared. He was, among other things, a beloved teacher. He taught art at UC Berkeley, Cal State University Los Angeles, UC Davis and Claremont’s Scripps College, as well as numerous workshops and classes including at the Laguna Beach School of Art. He encouraged many students and colleagues over the years, his family added, “best of all in his teaching, he was open to share and listen. He was curious and graceful and masterfully skilled. He was generous.”

He believed that “drawing is seeing.” He always began with drawing what he sought to convey in painting, so that he could get close to the essence or presence of what was before him. He was inspired by nature: running water, stones, mountains and growing things. He thrived being outside, standing in a river, fly fishing, walking in the hills or standing on the Pacific shore. Mr. Fuller described the act of making art as “empathy,” and said he sometimes felt that he “almost got there to feel the embrace of nature,” as he worked. Making art was a joy he immersed himself in, his family shared.

Jim leaves behind three daughters, Mary Francesca Fuller Roberts (Griff Roberts) of Claremont, Phoebe Margaret Fuller Graham (Richard Graham) of Irvine, and Suzanne Beth Fuller Braswell (James Braswell) of Lompoc. He once said he was “a man rich in daughters.”

He was the very proud grandfather of Martin James Roberts (Elizabeth Stampe) of San Francisco, Paul Griffith Roberts of Victorville, and a precious great-grandson, Aylen Stampe Roberts of San Francisco.

“Kindred Natures,” a new show of Mr. Fuller’s work, is on display at the Claremont Museum of Art through March 25. The museum is at 200 W. First St., in the Claremont Depot. More info is at or (909) 621-3200.


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