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James Earl Jewell

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Alumnus and university supporter James Earl Jewell passed away Feb. 15

Mar 18, 2020

University of the Pacific alumnus and champion of the arts James Earl Jewell passed away Feb. 15. He was 90.

Jewell, born in Los Angeles and raised in Sutter Creek, California, graduated from University of the Pacific (then known as College of the Pacific) in 1951 after earning a bachelor’s degree in theater arts. He was a proud member of the Omega Phi Alpha fraternity during his time at the university.

After Pacific, he served in the U.S. Army at Fort Bliss, Texas, and earned a Master of Fine Arts in Technical Theater and Lighting in 1957 from Yale University.

Jewell remained a steadfast supporter of Pacific over the years. From 1992 to 2003, he served on the Pacific Alumni Association’s Board of Directors, including as its vice president. He participated with former President Don DeRosa’s National Commission in 2000 and served twice as president of the historic Murphys Ale and Quail Club, a social group founded in 1943 by Pacific students. In 2006, Jewell was recognized for his dedication to the university with the Pacific Alumni Association’s prestigious Distinguished University Service Award.

In 1994, he established the James Earl Jewell Scholarship for Technical Theater, demonstrating how important theater was to him. His desire was for his estate to endow a professor of theater arts in the College of the Pacific.

Professionally, Jewell was the lighting designer who illuminated notable landmarks such as Hearst Castle, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge. Personally, he had a passion for the arts and was a season ticket holder of the San Francisco Opera. Jewell also had a lifelong affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America, receiving many awards for his participation, including the lighting of the scout’s National Jamborees, a gathering of thousands of members held every four years.

Jewell was preceded in death by his life partner of more than fifty years, David Lauer.

A celebration of life will be announced at a later date.

Memorial donations to the James Earl Jewell Endowed Professorship of Theater Arts at University of the Pacific, or to the Yale School of Drama, are encouraged.

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