Priscilla Schmidt Tomajan, 78, passed away after a long illness on Tuesday, July 21.
Priscilla A. Schmidt was born on December 6, 1941, in Puerto Limón, Costa Rica, where she lived with her parents, Gilma and Henry Schmidt, and her brother, John Henry.
Her creativity and love of the arts emerged at a young age. She designed clothing for her dolls and created ethereal ballet costumes for a school performance. She grew up with a large extended family, surrounded by adoring cousins.
She was sent to California so that she might attend high school while staying with family in the Los Angeles area. She graduated from L.A. High School in 1959.
After high school, she moved to Burlingame, California, where she worked for the telephone company. She continued drawing and painting in her spare time.
Priscilla met her future husband, Don Tomajan, on a blind date in LA, and when Don accepted a position in Washington, D.C., she soon followed him there.
Upon her arrival, she got a job at the InterAmerican Defense Board. They were married in Arlington, Virginia, in 1964 and welcomed their daughters, Kimberly and Kathleen, to the family in 1965 and 1967, respectively.
In 1969 the family moved to Honolulu, Hawai’i, and bought a home in Hawai’i Kai. In 1972, three years later, the family again relocated to Santa Monica while waiting for their home to be completed in the Palisades Highlands. The family moved into their new home in May 1973.
The two girls attended Marquez Elementary where their mother Priscilla was an active parent volunteer. She and her friend Yvonne Mehterian co-created Art Alley in one of the enclosed hallways on campus. At Art Alley students could work in various media, including painting, ceramics and batik. The two friends also collaborated on the design of the Marquez Haunted House and made props out of paper mache.
While Kathleen was at Marquez, Priscilla was girl scout troop leader. One of the most memorable badges for the girls was when the scouts taught their parents to dance “The Hustle.”
Priscilla made the holidays special for her family. She dreamed up unique Halloween costumes for her girls and would often dress up as well. One year she inadvertently scared younger trick or treaters when she answered the door as a beautiful spooky spider lady.
Priscilla loved the opulence and beauty of Christmas. She enjoyed welcoming family and friends to their home, which was filled with glittering decorations, garlands and a beautiful tree. She never missed her favorite ballet, “The Nutcracker.”
Priscilla served as president of the Pacific Palisades Art Association and was a member of a group of textile artists called Seaside Weavers. She made soft sculpture baskets and created woven wall hangings.
Priscilla was ahead of her time in working with handmade paper and created several stunning large-scale wall-mounted sculptures. She was always stylish and added personal touches to what ever she was wearing, including gowns for the annual Air Force Ball and other black tie occasions.
In 1994, Priscilla and Don divorced. She bought a home in Ontario, California, to be close to extended family. She was in her element, decorating and creating a lush garden there. When her health began to fail, Priscilla moved in with her brother, John Henry, who cared for her until her passing.
She is survived by her daughters, Kimberly and Kathleen, her son-in-law, John, her grandson, Marc, her brother, John Henry, and her dog, Siggy.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Priscilla Tomajan’s name to rainforest-alliance.org and worldwildlife.org.
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