Feldman left big shoes to fill
January 11, 2002
Pearlie Mae Feldman had just taken her brother-in-law to a doctor’s appointment when she was fatally shot.
Feldman, 68, was one of three people killed Jan. 10 when Scott Thorpe, now committed to Napa State Hospital, allegedly
opened fire in Nevada County’s mental health offices.
Feldman departed from routine that day and went into the waiting room at the Department of Behavioral Health Services, which Thorpe allegedly entered bearing a gun.
“Why she didn’t sit in the car that particular day? Who knows?” Feldman’s daughter, Robinette Jewell, said recently.
Feldman left behind a daughter, two sons, five grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, a close community and a void that can’t be filled.
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“It’s been a helluva a year,” Jewell said as the eve of the shooting approached.
Feldman, a native of Tennessee, cared for her ailing husband, Emil, who died Dec. 31, and his brother George, 79. The Feldmans had been married 28 years. Pearlie Mae had taken care of George for 17 years.
“I had to step into her shoes, and she had some big shoes to fill,” Jewell said of working full time as well as caring for the two men.
The mother and daughter were extremely close – “She was my best friend,” Jewell said – and were also neighbors.
Jewell’s daughters, Amber, a sophomore at Nevada Union High School, and Marissa, a seventh-grader at Chicago Park School, miss their grandmother terribly, Jewell said. The family now resides in the house in which Feldman had lived.
Feldman was their cheerleader on the basketball court – and the lack of her presence at their games still is felt.
“Marissa made it through the season pretty good,” Jewell said. “It’s hard on Amber, because mom was on the bench for every game.”
Jewell said her brothers, who live out of town, are not dealing with their mother’s death any better than she is. One brother has not come to the house since the shooting, she said.
“The kitchen looks the same as it did when she walked out of here,” Jewell said.
Feldman would give someone in need the shirt off her back, her daughter said. Jewell recalled accompanying her mother to deliver Christmas dinner in 1999 to a woman and her son who were down on their luck.
Holidays present a cruel challenge, she said.
Feldman baked more than 20 apple pies every year to give away during the holidays. The pies remain in the freezer, where she left them last year, each with a pat of butter and cinnamon on top, ready for baking.
Jewell took one pie out of the freezer and baked it for Thanksgiving.
“I bawled with every bite,” she said.
Time has not dulled the pain of losing her mother, but events are less dramatic now than they were right after Jan. 10.
“I didn’t do well right after shooting, and friends have been by my side all year,” Jewell said. “This is a heckuva community.”
The community is small enough that she’s encountered many others affected by the shootings, she said. Jewell was particularly concerned about a young woman at Behavioral Health for an appointment Jan. 10 who had to pass by her murdered mother’s body to exit the building and be escorted to safety.
She says her husband, Nevada County Sheriff’s Deputy Mike Jewell, “has been my rock.”
“He has shielded me from the reporters,” Jewell said. “The media were absolutely ruthless.”
More than 400 people attended her mother’s funeral, she said.
“The entire back row, entire back wall was filled with reporters,” she said. The worst was a television station whose reporters contacted the funeral home, saying they wanted to “capture the family when we came in to see mom for the first time after the shooting,” she said.
“Chapel of the Angels said, ‘Absolutely not,”’ she recalled. “Then they asked, ‘Can we sit in the parking lot?’ Again they said no. They actually wanted to sit up on Race Street and sit there as we came in.”
“I can’t believe they would do something like this after the shooting,” she said.
“We take it one day at a time,” she said. “We just shuffle this hand God dealt us.”