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Persis T. Sturges

1921 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Persis T. Sturges Obituary
PERSIS T STURGES Our beloved mother and friend, Persis T Sturges, passed on January 29, 2018. Persis Sturges was born to William and Gertrude Thorpe on January 4, 1921 in Upland, California. She had two younger brothers, Bill and Jack Thorpe who both pre-ceded her. Persis spent her childhood in San Diego and graduated top of her class from San Diego High School in 1938. After high school, Persis attended the University of California at Berkeley on a full scholarship but left after a year to marry Lovell Hurlbut with whom she divorced in the 1950s. During the 1940s, Persis and Lovell had two daughters, Jean Mills and Nancy Hurlbut, who both survived her and live in Chico. She has three grandchildren, Vernie Coppinger, Ryan Watson, and Andrea Watson, and three great-grandchildren. During the 1950s, she worked as a secretary in the Psychology Depart-ment at San Diego State University (SDSU) and always commented that this changed her life forever. At this time, Persis began her pioneer life as a quiet women whose actions modeled pathways for women in higher education. While a secretary at SDSC, she met her mentor and dear friend, Dr. Merle Turner, from whom she learned the love of experimental psychology and that she was smart enough to continue her education. After completing her baccalaureate, she married Duane Sturges and moved to Seattle, Washington to complete her doctorate in Experi-mental Psychology at the University of Washington. Her marriage to Duane did not survive the pressures of being a blended family and graduate school. From that point on, she remained a single woman. In 1961, she began her first academic job as an assistant professor at Central Washington University in Ellensburg Washington. At that time, Persis attempted to buy a 100-acre ranch. Although she had the economic means to support the purchase, she had to buy the ranch in a male friend's name being told that "woman cannot buy a working ranch." In 1964, she left Central Washington University and began her 20-year career in the Psychology Department at California State University, Chico (CSUC). She was the first woman to be hired in Psychology at CSUC. Over her 20-year span, Persis was recognized as among the 54 top scholars publishing in the prominent educational psychology journals and was listed by the American Educational Research Association as a "prominent educational psychology researcher." Persis received four grants during her career and was one of the pioneers for bringing research to CSUC. In the 1970s, she had to petition CSUC to be able to use computers in her research. Again changing the landscape of CSUC. When she received her first grant, the president of the university sent her a bottle of Champagne, as it was so unique and outstanding. It is important to underscore that she blazed trails and was a pioneer for women equality in higher education during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s by continuing to outshine most faculty. CSUC recognized her brilliance and awarded her one of the first faculty campus Profes-sional Achievement Honor. She left a legacy at CSUC. Her work helped develop a climate of scholarship that would encourage and provide a model for faculty aspiring to conduct research. More than that, she and the other professors became dear friends and had fun while doing their important work. She made lasting friends. This was a very exciting time and fulfilling time for Persis. She loved Chico State University and Chico. Before retirement, Persis again went after a dream. She walked into a local travel agency and asked if she could join them. This began a second profession as a travel consultant that spanned about 30 years and into her 90s. She used her brilliance to arrange and organize fantastic tours to over 100 countries and 7 continents. During these trips, she again made enduring friends and went to places westerners had never been. These trips kept her young and continually open to new experiences. One of her most favorite experiences was sitting around a campfire in remote Africa with a group of close friends drinking scotch and talking about their fantastic day excursion. She was a rare and unique person. She belonged to many organizations. These included Emeritus and Retired Faculty and Staff Association; Association of American University Women; League of Women Voters; Bidwell Bridge Club; and of course, the delightful and close Wednesday Night Group. An obituary can never do justice for someone who lived their life fully and was a quiet, yet powerful pioneer that others would follow. Here are some of the words her dear friends used to describe this remarkable woman: Invincible, legendary lady, lots of joie de vivre, extraordinary memory, role model, powerful mind, truly good woman, great "goer," gentle character, inspirational, giving and loving soul, very intelligent, enter-taining, warm person, reassuring presence, excellent fellow traveler, dear friend. To quote one of her closest friends, "the world could use more 'Persises." Her two daughters Jean and Nancy, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and her many friends love her and will miss her so very much. The public who knew and cared for Persis are invited to her public "Celebration of Life" from 2:00 4:00 PM on Sunday, February 11, 2018, at Lakeside Pavilion, 2565 California Park Drive, Chico, CA 95928. Please no flowers. If you would like to send condolences, please do so by donating to the "In memory of Persis Sturges" Campaign at the African Wildlife Foundation, 1100 New jersey Ave SE, Suite 900, Washington, DC 20003, https://secure.awf.org/springboard/node/7972 Survivors Jean Mills - oldest daughter; Nancy Hurlbut - youngest daughter; Vernie Coppinger - oldest grandchild; Ryan Watson second grandchild; Andrea Watson youngest grandchild; three great-grandchildren Condolences may be sent to the family at www.bidwellchapel.com
Published in Chico Enterprise-Record on Feb. 7, 2018
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