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Sara Jane Pearman 08/17/2023

Sara Jane Pearman, age 82, passed away Thursday, August 17, 2023, at Kinnic Health and Rehab in River Falls, Wisconsin.  Cremation services provided by Bakken-Young Funeral & Cremation Services.


  • Arielle Brodkey Posted August 19, 2023 5:45 am

    Back in the day, before being overcome with her disabilities, Sara Jane was witty, erudite, and ready for any fun. She loved her nephews, dogs, a cat, and medieval art. I remember those days fondly and send my condolences to her devoted nephews.

  • Bruce Shewitz Posted August 19, 2023 7:12 am

    Sara Jane was a cherished friend and colleague for many years. My deepest condolences to her nephews and their families. May her memory be a blessing to them, as it is to me.

    • Stanley W. Hess Posted August 19, 2023 9:53 pm

      Thanks Bruce for alerting me of her passing. Bless all of you in sharing your memories of SJ. She was a fountain of knowledge which she freely shared along with her good humor, etc.

  • Bruce Shewitz Posted August 19, 2023 7:34 am

    My deepest condolences to Sara Jane’s nephews, their families, and the professional community of which she was an important member. She was a cherished friend and much-admired colleague of mine for many years. May her memory always be a blessing to all of us.

  • Deni Horstman Posted August 19, 2023 8:18 am

    So well said, Arielle and Bruce. I would add her love and sharing of her garden. And her award-winning work as the Venerable Bead. Her Fall Leaves necklace and earrings are among several enduring reminders in my own jewelry box of how she and I (and Kiri Te Kanawa Kitty) loved lingering in her bead room.

  • Ann Abid Posted August 19, 2023 8:37 am

    I’ve missed Sara Jane since she moved away from Cleveland. Even in retirement we used to have lunch once a month until our individual maladies and situations got in the way. She was a scholar of medieval Netherlandish art who never stopped working on new ideas in her specialty. She was the preeminent art slide librarian when that was still a valued, necessary job in art museums and academic departments. She was a force of nature that made the workplace fun.

  • Diane F. DeBevec Posted August 19, 2023 11:17 am

    Sara Jane was a grand lady in every way, a supportive friend, a fountain of scholarly information, a droll conversationalist, and a talented professional. She was part of a network of good friends and professionals that characterized a very special period at the Museum. Thanks to the family that has seen to her care in these last years. I miss you, dear Sara Jane.

  • John Taormina Posted August 19, 2023 5:19 pm

    I first met Sara Jane when I was an undergraduate art history major at John Carroll University in Cleveland (1975-79) so we go way back, some 45 + years. I ended up going into the same field as hers. She was a sassy mentor, a knowledgeable art historian, great colleague, and longtime friend. Some of my fondest memories are having tea with her in the art museum’s cafe where she would talk about various museum pieces (Northern Renaissance of course) and museum gossip. She was also an inventive beader and jewelry maker. I once visited her at her house in Cleveland Heights where she proudly showed me her shelves and drawers of very organized beads and crafting supplies. It was a remarkable room. My condolences to her Wisconsin family. We’re all going to miss you, my dear.

  • Stanley W. Hess Posted August 19, 2023 9:46 pm

    RIP Sara Jane. I cherish so many precious memories of my time at the CMA. Our working together and the good times as well and the grieving. Blessings to her family, may they find peace in this transition.

  • Leigh Gates Posted August 22, 2023 12:51 pm

    I was so sorry to hear of the passing of Sara Jane, a visual resources colleague of many years. She was smart and had a great sense of humor which we all enjoyed at meetings and conferences through the years. My condolences to her family and friends.

  • J.P. Brown Posted August 22, 2023 2:22 pm

    Sara Jane was a highlight of my time in Cleveland. Strong, funny, profane, and infinitely good-hearted, a scholar, a feminist avant la lettre and one who saw the benefits of computers in the visual arts earlier than many. I remember the rides up the hill to the Heights in her wretched little car, the beloved beagles, the free-wheeling afternoon tea breaks in the cafeteria where much museum work got done and the passing world was observed with clear bemused eyes. She was able to smile through two tragic losses, to reinvent herself as a craftswoman of high order after leaving the museum, and was always open to the new. Requiescat in pace.

  • Gregory P. J. Most Posted August 22, 2023 2:32 pm

    Sara Jane was a wonderful mentor when I was at CMA, and became a great colleague as I went on to other positions. She had a deep knowledge of the history of art that she wore lightly and shared generously. Sara Jane use that knowledge to make pictures accessible to researchers both in the library proper and later on the internet. And she loved beagles! I join many others in sadness at the news of her passing.

  • Mary Wassermann Posted August 23, 2023 10:08 am

    I did not know Sarah Jane well, but often saw her at conferences, and she was always very friendly and welcoming. She was the person who would interject the pearl of wisdom during a meeting or the one who could break the tension with a wry comment. This news brings back so many memories of a profession that has changed dramatically. My sincere condolences to the family and friends of Sara Jane.

  • Joan M. Benedetti Posted August 23, 2023 7:06 pm

    Sara Jane contributed an important essay to the compilation, Art Museum Libraries and Librarianship, on the history of the Cleveland Museum of Art Image Library. (“From Lantern Slides to Slide Libraries to Image Collections: The View from the Cleveland Museum of Art.”) She wrote it in 2006 after retiring from a thirty-eight-year career as slide and image librarian at the museum. Her “Thoughts on Image Cataloging” still have resonance. It was a pleasure to work with her on that poignant essay.

  • Katie Solender Posted September 6, 2023 9:16 am

    On this day, Sara Jane’s birthday, I write to say that first and foremost, she was a true and wise friend. She was also a most excellent colleague. Sharp and witty, she was an astute observer of human (and animal, and floral) behavior. And, she was an artist. I’ll never forget how stunned and honored I was when she gave me her glorious “Bees Knees” necklace. She was a very special person – her impact on many lives will be felt for years to come.

  • Nancy McAfee Posted September 6, 2023 12:50 pm

    Sara Jane was a jack-of-many traits: a scholar, a very helpful slide librarian, a great friend and ever a source for community information. Even though I have moved from Cleveland I treasure the memories of her garden, her cats and dogs, and her bead collection. She will always be an important part of my Cleveland memories.

  • Martha R Mahard Posted September 6, 2023 6:05 pm

    I am so saddened to hear of this loss. Sara Jane was an amazing woman, and good friend. We first met when I was a new-comer to VRA conferences and bonded immediately due to a shared sense of humor (mostly wicked), outspoken opinions, and passion for controlled vocabularies (although ours seldom were). At every conference we would make a beeline for the local bead shop in search of treasures. She always over-spent but then she created the most marvelous art and jewelry. Most memorably we went on a road trip from Cleveland to Bloomington, IN, to visit our colleague and dear friend Eileen Fry. I drove! Never saw so much damned flat space in all my New England-based life! Sara Jane dear girl I miss you, but I continue to visit bead stores in your honor wherever I go.xoxo

  • Dorothy Shinn Posted September 7, 2023 12:53 am

    Sara Jane and I became friends when I reviewed an exhibit she curated at the Cleveland Museum of Art in my early years as the art critic for the Akron Beacon Journal. I treasured not only her knowledge and insights, but her wit and wicked ways with a Thanksgiving dish she called Condensed Corn. Her presence bearing said delicacy, along with longtime beau, architectural historian Walter Leedy, became a Thanksgiving staple at our house for many years. We shared a love of medieval art, art glass, blue-and-white china, mothers named Dorothy and gardening. We both mourned our declining abilities in the herbaceous border, but the friendship held strong. I think of her every day and will always miss my friend.

  • Eileen Fry Posted September 7, 2023 6:52 am

    Sara Jane and I were roommates at conferences for many, many years. We had the tv on all night!
    At every conference, she would give a private display of her latest beading endeavors and we’d pull out the phone book looking for promising bead stores. In Miami we discovered a store that was switching from beads to curios, and had really good prices, and Sarajane bought several kilos of beads. We forgot that they actually Weighed kilos! She even liked my doodles and made great bead art from them.

    Sarajane had so many friends and loved to share what was most important to her, like beagles, her kitty, gardening, begonias, Walter, Cleveland, medieval sculpture…and beads. Molly Faries and I still remember great meals with her and staying in her house. She was a good, good, person and I miss her.

    Sarajane and I shared many memories with so many, many friends

  • Sandra Amitay Posted September 7, 2023 10:37 am

    Dear Sara Jane, your blue bunny is on my roof, looking out for you.

  • Christine Block Posted October 1, 2023 10:23 am

    I just learned of dear Sara Jane’s passing – and am sorry to hear. We lost touch when she moved away from South Euclid, but she was on my mind and I tried to find her to reconnect, but to no avail. I loved her sense of humor, I brilliance and creativity in many areas, and her love of that beautiful blue – Rest in Peace, SJP

  • Bill Chiego Posted March 9, 2024 4:35 pm

    Sara Jane was a dear friend during my years in graduate school at CWRU in the late 1960s. She and I shared a love of opera and food,
    and I never turned down an invitation to dinner at her place. She was a great country cook, reflecting her Kansas roots, and it was always fun to talk art and music every time we got together. May she rest in peace.

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