Claudine Pearson Luppi, 92, passed away Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020, in Sherman Oaks, Calif., because of complications from COVID-19.
The eldest of eight children, Claudine was born March 30, 1928, in Lewiston to Anna Lucile (Sanderlin) and Wilbur Leander Pearson. Claudine was a shining light to her family and friends; she was smart, funny, talented, beautiful and intent on making her way in the world. After graduating from Lewiston High School in 1946, she worked as a reporter for the Lewiston Morning Tribune and began undergraduate studies in journalism at the Northern Idaho College of Education, before setting out in 1947 to attend Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.
Her college years were interrupted when she married Hobart Luppi in 1950 — two weeks before he was to start a new job in Chicago. Hobart subsequently became a career diplomat with the U.S. Foreign Service, Department of State, reflecting their mutual desire to travel and see the world. They lived in Egypt, India and Pakistan during the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. In India, Claudine was an important part of the American community, serving as president of the American Women’s Club, while also raising four children.
During Jacqueline Kennedy’s historic visit to New Delhi, India, in 1962, Claudine was a member of the “Banquet Committee” which organized all aspects of the official dinner for the First Lady with guests Prime Minister Nehru, Ambassador Galbraith and other dignitaries (a copy of Claudine’s personal recounting of the events, “A Dinner for the First Lady,” is on file at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston).
In the mid-1960s, she was able to complete her undergraduate degree in education at American University and taught fifth and sixth grades for several years in Loudoun County, Va. In 1970, the family returned overseas, living in Karachi and Islamabad, Pakistan, where she was a renowned hostess, a leading member of the American community and journalism teacher at Karachi American School. During the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971, American nationals were evacuated from Karachi to Tehran, Iran, and Claudine played a key role as one of the leaders in charge of organizing and assisting the evacuees during their monthlong stay — including publishing a daily informational newsletter.
After her divorce in 1977, Claudine joined ARAMCO as an elementary school teacher in Saudi Arabia for several years before relocating to Las Vegas. Over the next 30 years, she continued to seek out new adventures, living in California, Pennsylvania, Florida, Rhode Island and elsewhere, while focusing on her personal writing projects, including an extensive family history/cookbook co-authored with her cousin, Glory Ellen Pearson Peel, in Spokane. Claudine loved her family, teaching, writing and being a friend to anyone who needed a helping hand.
She is survived by three of her children, Mark (Eveline) Luppi, Mary (Anthony) Basich and Ann (Peter, deceased) von Mehren; and six grandchildren, Elizabeth “Tika” von Mehren, Edward von Mehren, Colin von Mehren, Chase Basich, Arielle Basich and Connor Basich, all of whom she adored. She is also survived by her sister, Blanche Freeland; brother Steven (Maryan) Pearson; and a large extended family.
The world will miss her generous and adventurous spirit. A service will be held at a later date when she can be buried next to her son, Brian, who predeceased her in 1973, at Hillsboro Cemetery in Virginia. In lieu of flowers, please donate to a charity of your choice.