Claflin Mourns Passing of Alumnus and Jazz Legend Skipp Pearson

Jun 07, 2017

Claflin University alumnus and legendary jazz musician Thales Thomas "Skipp" Pearson died Monday following a battle with advanced bone cancer.

 Pearson had been at the forefront of the effort to preserve
live jazz music, particularly in South Carolina.

 “Mr. Pearson was a treasured and beloved member of the Claflin University family, “President Henry N. Tisdale said. “His passing leaves an irreplaceable void in the jazz community and music industry. He will be sorely missed as a fierce advocate and distinguished educator for the arts.  Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Pearson, who earned a bachelor’s degree at Claflin in 1974, was a native of Orangeburg. He was a celebrated jazz musician who worked for more than three decades to keep jazz alive in South Carolina as an educator and entertainer.

"By the grace of God, I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to share my talents as a musical artist with others across the world," said Pearson in a testimonial that appears in a recent Claflin alumni publication. "I must credit time I spent at Claflin for excelling my natural drive to seek out the best life has to offer.  As an alumnus of Claflin University, I am pleased to represent the state of South Carolina and the Southeast region of the United States of America as the official ambassador of jazz music and hospitality."

Pearson received the state's highest civilian honor, the Order of the Palmetto, in January.  He was also the recipient of the state’s highest artistic honor, the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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