Point Loma High School alumna and glass artist Leslie Perlis, 70, died recently from COVID complications.
She is best remembered by those who shared her life as one of the high school’s biggest supporters.
“She was the high school’s patron saint and mom,” said Mel Gillum, her soulmate. “She always was very active in Point Loma High with band moms or fundraising for the school’s music department.”
“She remained active in the community throughout her life and started the Eric Pratt Drum Line Fund to support the Point Loma High School Band Boosters when her son, Eric, passed a few years ago,” noted Midway business owner Cathy Kenton who characterized Perlis as colorful. “Leslie lived for color and she colored in so many ways throughout her life,” she said.
Leslie Perlis moved to San Diego when she was in the sixth grade attending local schools and graduated in 1968 from PLHS, noted Kenton, who added Perlis graduated with an art degree from UCLA and went on to become internationally recognized for her art glasswork.
Kenton said Leslie was an only-child who “quickly found two ‘sisters’ in Margy Newman and me. The three of us, often referred to by our families as the ‘Three Musketeers,’ were inseparable throughout the years and remained best of friends throughout our lives.”
Kenton noted Leslie lived and worked at her studio in the Sunset Cliffs area, where she crafted her works of art.
“The installations in my home are two of her smaller efforts,” Kenton said. “Her work is a feature in many churches, synagogues, restaurants, and residences. Several of her commissions and pieces can be seen on her website, leslieperlis.com.”
On her website, Perlis’ is described as “a pioneer in the studio glass movement celebrating color and original design to bring this centuries-old art form into the future.”
Her website also notes she was an “author and teacher who gave detailed instruction and inspiration to glass artists worldwide.”
Perlis wrote a book titled “Dimensional Mosaics with Fused & Painted Glass Elements.”
“Leslie had 40 years-plus in the glass business,” said Gillum adding, “Her credits include Nati’s Mexican Restaurant where she was commissioned to do a window for the waiting area. She also designed the window, that was 5-feet by 15-feet, for Point Loma Presbyterian Church, nicknamed the red brick church. She did numerous projects at Sunset Hills Elementary and Dana Middle schools. She also did a commission for the Brigantine Restaurant, as well as the chapel at Lawrence Family Jewish Center in La Jolla. Her work appeared in private homes, synagogues and churches throughout San Diego and across the United States.”
Perlis was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Art Glass Association of Southern California.
Gillum described his best friend as “always cheery and bubbly, ready for an adventure.”
Kenton recalls Leslie “loved dancing and together with her partner of nearly 10 years, Mel Gillum, she enjoyed dancing, off-roading, camping and travel.”
Added Kenton, “I could tell you stories for days about Leslie, as can Mel and many others.”
Gillum described one of Leslie’s more famous pieces of glass art called “The Escaping Girl” as “semi-related to Leslie’s own journey of coming out of darkness. But what it doesn’t show is that she was always reaching back to help other people.”
Gillum added Leslie was involved for a decade putting together stockings around the holidays to be given to military troops. “Last year we did over 200 stockings for troops,” he said. “And we would bring them over to our contact on North Island.”
Leslie was the full organizer, shopper and financial backer for the “stockings for the troops” projects.
Concluded Gillum of Perlis: “Leslie died very young at heart, and lived every day to its fullest along with her love of music, dancing, art and colors.”
In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting a donation to be made to PLHS Boosters, in memory of Leslie for the Eric Pratt Drum Line Fund. PLHS Association, 1220 Rosecrans St., 240, San Diego 92106.