Published: December 19, 2006
Pamela Guthman, a much loved member of the antiques community and Antiques and The Arts Weekly‘s extended family, died peacefully on December 11 in San Diego. She was 53.
A devout Christian Scientist, Guthman worked as a practitioner, or spiritual healer, after moving to San Diego from Westport, Conn., four years ago. In the early 1980s, Guthman was briefly on the editorial staff of Antiques and The Arts Weekly and was the first editor of Connoisseur’s Quarterly, the journal of the Art & Antiques Dealers League of America.
As a freelance writer for a variety of publications, including this one, she wrote widely on everything that mattered to her: friends, travel, food, antiques, outdoor pursuits, environmentalism, and, above all, faith.
Pam lived in the present and was fond of vigorous activity. She studied ballroom dance and took up diving, rock climbing, long distance running and even trained for Ironman triathlon competition. In each instance, she cared more about camaraderie than competition. She made friends everywhere she went.
Until her mother’s death in 2002, she helped out at Pat Guthman Antiques in Southport, Conn., and was a lively spirit at every antiques show in which she participated.
“Everyone who knew her will miss her smile. It’s something we will all carry in our hearts,” said Old Lyme, Conn., dealer Karen DiSaia, recalling with a video of the first Southport-Westport Antiques Show that captured Pam in a game of Frisbee with Karen’s husband, Ralph.
Born February 22, 1953, in Philadelphia, Pam lived in Westport, Conn., for most of her life. A graduate of Staples High School in Westport and Principia College in Elsah, Ill., she worked in Boston for the First Church of Christ, Scientist, before returning to Connecticut in 1980.
After Pat Guthman Antiques relocated to Pequot Avenue in Southport, Pam left her job in Manhattan to join her mother, exhibiting at as many as 12 antiques shows a year.
“We were roommates and business partners,” Pam wrote in a 2002 tribute to Pat Guthman, a specialist in antiques for the kitchen and hearth. The women spent nine months designing and building a commercial/residential complex in Southport with three shops downstairs and a three-bedroom, three-bath apartment upstairs. They incorporated antique architectural fragments throughout and gave cooking demonstrations on the site.
Ron Bourgeault was one of many friends who stayed with the Guthmans. “Show business can be very stressful and competitive, but Pam always had a kind word to say about everyone. I attended several Christian Science services with Pam. I left those meetings with feelings of peace and comfort. I know Pam is happy in her new home. I will miss her but think of the joy she brought to us all.”
In 1997, Pat Guthman sold the building and moved her shop. She shared her new quarters with Peter & Maria Warren Antiques. Pam and Pat became close friends with Peter Warren and his daughter, A.J.
“Pam was like a third daughter to me. She was a luminous person whose smile and warmth lit up a room. She had a wonderful calmness that seemed, in part, to come from being deeply religious. She saw beauty in so many small things: a flower, a breeze, a common courtesy,” said Peter Warren.
“Pam was my sister, my soul mate, my comrade-in-arms. We spent a great deal of time together and shared everything,” said A.J. Warren. “She was a bright spirit, one of the strongest and most selfless people I have ever known.”
“We had lots of fun when Pam was working for our paper,” R. Scudder Smith, editor of Antiques and The Arts Weekly, said. “Her enthusiasm and energy ran at a very high level and she was always full of more story ideas than she could possibly have time to write.”
After her mother died in 2002, Pam lived for four months with Mary Flynn, a neighbor and fellow member of her Westport church.
“We had a service on December 13,” said Flynn. “After the reading, most of the talk was about Pam. It was a very beautiful demonstration of the love people had for her. In the days since, her many friends have called me from all over the country.”
In 2003, Pam married Brian Kissock, her second husband and a fellow practitioner. They had recently divorced but remained close.
In a letter published in the August 4, 2006, edition of the San Diego North County Times, Pamela Guthman wrote that “the love of God, made practical through acknowledging, accepting and living it continuously,” was what was relevant in life.
Few lived with more faith, hope and joy than she did.
A memorial service in her honor is planned for May 12 in Westport.
Pam is survived by her brother and sister-in-law, Scott and Bernadette Guthman; her nieces, Rachel and Laicey; her stepmother, Elizabeth Stillinger; and her stepsisters, Alice Stillinger and Amelia Stillinger. She is predeceased by her father, antiques dealer William Guthman, who died in 2005, and her mother, Pat Guthman.
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