Cover photo for Mervyn Seldon's Obituary
Mervyn Seldon Profile Photo

Mervyn Seldon

May 9, 1930 — January 24, 2024

Mervyn Seldon

May 9, 1930 — January 24, 2024

Mervyn Winston Adams Seldon


Artist, scholar, publisher, editor


Mervyn Winston Adams Seldon died January 24, 2024 after a battle with dementia.


Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Mervyn considered herself an artist first and foremost. However, she was a late bloomer, embarking on her journey as an artist after a robust career in education, publishing, and nonprofit industries. 


Before pursuing her career, she studied courses in French literature and art history at the University of Chicago and through a study abroad program with Smith College in Paris. 


While studying in Paris she had a youthful romance with a young Valery Giscard d’Estang, the future president of France. The connection was not aligned with his family’s political aspirations and the two parted reluctantly. They continued a lifelong correspondence and met on occasion for reunion meals in New York or Paris. 


She later received a certificate in China studies from the Weatherhead East Asian Institute at Columbia University, as well as a Master of Arts in political science, also from Columbia University. She majored in French literature and art history (during her junior year in Paris) at Smith College but spent her senior year, with the same major, at the University of Chicago, earning a B.A. equivalent in 1951. 


After moving to New York City in 1952, she worked for several nonprofit organizations with an international focus while studying for her M.A in political science at Columbia University and for the certificate of its East Asian Institute (specializing in China) in 1964.  


While studying for her degree, from 1953 to 1964, Ms. Seldon served as a research assistant for the Council on Religion and International Affairs (now Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs). There she assisted in organizing a major study project on the implications of the ethics of five major religions for international relations. Her interest in this project led her to Columbia University where she pursued an M.A. in political science and the certificate (China) of Columbia’s Weatherhead East Asian Institute, both awarded to her in 1964. During these years she worked part time as executive secretary and editor for the Conference Group of U.S. National Organizations on the United Nations, with the United Nations Foundation.


She then ventured into book publishing, and from 1968 to 1973 served as an editor at Praeger Publications of ABC-CLIO, LLC in New York. From 1975 to 1990 she served as a consultant editor and series editor at the Westview Press of Taylor & Francis Group in Boulder, Colorado. 


In the early 1970s she married Robert Seldon, an aircraft executive with General Dynamics. They shared a life of tennis, hiking, and good friends. Bob died 10 years later of heart disease. She continued a lifelong relationship with his adopted daughter Aurora Seldon and her family.  


Ms. Seldon moved to West Covina, California in 1973, remaining in book publishing and educational fundraising until 1990. From 1978 to 1982, she served as a managing editor of Studies in Comparative Communism at the University of Southern California. 


Switching gears once again, she pursued educational fundraising from 1981 to 1985, serving as the director of foundation and corporation relations and a development officer at Claremont McKenna College. From 1985 to 1986, she briefly served as the program officer of the W.M. Keck Foundation in Los Angeles. Finally, from 1986 to 1990, she served as the director of development at the Performing Tree, a nonprofit art in education agency in Los Angeles. 


She began studying painting part time in the mid-1980s, completing her M.F.A. in drawing and painting at California State University, Fullerton. 


Ms. Seldon began her full-time career as an artist in 1993. In 1998 she joined 57 Underground, a nonprofit artists’ gallery in Pomona, becoming its treasurer, then director (2014-16), and treasurer again in 2017. 


She has mounted six solo shows and been part of many group exhibitions in California and across the United States. Her work mainly features still life painting, landscapes, portraits, and abstract paintings with an emphasis on color, composition, light, and texture. Her most recent work uses geometric forms to denote the structure of our times as well as concerns about raging civil wars abroad, political upheavals here, and an alert about our endangered civilizations. It also expresses her continuing delight in design and color in art.


She was a 10 year resident of Claremont Manor, where she expanded the resident art shows from small occasional displays to full scale events. In 2021 she moved to Aegis Living in Corte Madera, California, where she spent her last years in memory care.


In her spare time outside of work, Ms. Seldon enjoyed camping, playing tennis, gardening, skiing, traveling, watching movies, going to the theater, listening to classical music, and reading. 


She is survived by her stepdaughter Aurora Seldon; Aurora’s son Jonathan Seldon; Aurora’s grandchildren Anthony Seldon, Sarah Seldon, and Matthew Seldon; nieces and nephews Keven (Nick) Wilder, Kyle (Chris) Gregory, Lisa (Buck) Stebbins, William (Emmanuella) Carney, Amanda (David) Mabie, Pince (Alexis) Lorien, Beth (Ed Herbst) Skinner, Megan Camille Roy, Bennet Harvey, Kyle Harvey, and Sasha (Tyler) Mayoras; as well as many grandnieces and grandnephews.


Ms. Seldon was the last of her generation. She was predeceased by her husband Robert Mark Seldon; brother Robert McCormick Adams; and her sisters Kyle Carney and Janys Krane.


A memorial service and gravesite viewing will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, March 21 at Forest Lawn Cemetery Reception Hall, 21300 Via Verde St., Covina, CA 91724. Lunch will be served, and Mervyn’s artwork will be available for viewing.


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