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Mimi Semmes Dann

1927 - 2017 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Mimi Semmes Dann Obituary
Mimi Semmes Dann

Memphis, TN

Mimi Semmes Dann died on July 29, 2017 at age 90. A fourth generation Memphian, Mimi was born on New Year's Day 1927. She was preceded in death by her parents, Elise Humphreys Race and Col. Thomas Jenkins Semmes, her brother, Thomas Semmes, Jr., and her husband of 54 years, Alexander W. Dann, Jr. She and Alex met at the end of WWII when he was a Navy flight instructor stationed at the Memphis Naval Air Station. They married in 1947 and attended college together.

Mimi graduated from Miss Hutchison School where she was class valedictorian, and attended Sweet Briar College and Sarah Lawrence College, graduating from Cornell University Phi Beta Kappa with distinction in fine arts. She later studied at the Memphis Academy of Arts and Arrowmont School of Crafts.

Her youth was devoted to raising her four children and involvement in civic affairs. She was active in the New Guard Republican movement to promote a two-party political system in Tennessee, and she was an alternate delegate to the 1968 Republican National Convention. She was also a charter member of the Panel of American Women, a group that fought prejudice through education, and she served as an officer of the Junior League of Memphis, Pink Palace Museum, Art Today, Memphis Garden Club, Memphis College of Art, Memphis Association of Craft Artists, and Tennessee Association of Craft Artists. She was a longtime communicant of Calvary Episcopal where she served in the Hunger Ministry. She was a former member of the Memphis Hunt and Polo Club and Memphis Country Club.

At age 46, Mimi decided to turn her ceramics hobby into a full-time career. She is known for her thin-walled sculptural porcelain bowls. She was the recipient of numerous awards, and her work is held by Brooks Museum of Art and the Indianapolis Museum of Art, as well as in many private collections throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia.

Mimi enjoyed many things in life. She loved the outdoors, swimming, tennis, dancing and jazz. She initiated a series of jazz salons in her home which have since spread throughout Memphis. Her adventurous spirit led her to travel to many exotic places on six continents. Yet one of her favorite destinations was the family farm on Maryland's Eastern Shore, a gathering place for family and friends.

Mimi is survived by her four children: Alec Dann (Penne) and Tom Dann (Melissa) of Washington, DC, Elise Dann (Brian Oschwald) of Mendham, NJ, and Katie Dann (John Pruett) of Memphis; her six grandchildren, Jeremy, Julia, Isabel, Beryl, Olivia, and Hayden Dann; her sisters, Flournoy Rogers of Sewanee and Anne Semmes of Greenwich, CT; and her close companion and lifelong friend, Judge Harry Welford.

Grateful for a lifetime of good health, Mimi donated her body to the Genesis program of the Medical Education Research Institute. A celebration of her life will be held at Calvary Episcopal Church at 11 a.m. on October 7. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the Church Health Center, Calvary Church or the Memphis College of Art.
Published in The Commercial Appeal on Aug. 1, 2017
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