Sky Scene 07

Peter Shumway

April 22, 1939 ~ June 20, 2020 (age 81)


Peter Carleton Shumway was born on April 22, 1939, in Buffalo, NY, to Warren Davis Shumway and Marion Mcllroy Shumway.  He died at his home in Santa Fe on June 20, 2020, from complications due to Parkinson’s disease.  Peter attended East Aurora High School and Vermont Academy, and he received a BA from Middlebury College in Middlebury, VT.  Peter received his MA from Smith College in Northampton, MA, where he met his wife, the love of his life, Elizabeth Shartel Jopling.  They were married in her parents’ home in Oklahoma City in 1970 and were ecstatically, happily married for almost 50 years.

Peter taught theater and speech courses on the secondary and university levels at The Winchendon School, Smith College, Holyoke Community College, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, Rose State College, and the University of Oklahoma.  He was the technical director for the Louis Tupler Dance Company of Washington, D.C.

In 1978, Elizabeth (Beth) and other women in Oklahoma City founded Prairie Dance Theatre, which Peter joined as a technical director, narrator, and co-creator of original children’s shows.  Peter toured with the company for over 20 years in 10 states, including New Mexico.  For Prairie Dance Theatre, he designed and ran performances, children’s shows based on American Indian stories and teaching residencies.  Peter took the company to Cambridge, MA, and to the Houston International Festival twice, as well as performing for 3 American Indian Nations (Cherokee, Lakota, and Navajo).  He was also an accomplished abstract painter, and his home with Beth is filled with his colorful and whimsical works as well as works by many other contemporary and American Indian artists.

Peter was a life-long practitioner of the internal martial arts, particularly T’ai Chi.  He helped to teach many students in Oklahoma City.  He also shared his meditation practices and his spirituality with others.  While at college in Middlebury, Peter was head of the Mountain Club and one of the keepers of the Long Trail.  Peter found that on regular basis, he had to corral and return the terrier dogs of the famous poet Robert Frost.

Peter was known for his dry humor and wit, as well as his creative mind.  Following his thoughts was a mental exercise for his friends.  He was a natural storyteller and perfect narrator for the children’s shows.  A friend once said that sometimes you had to take Peter not with a grain of salt but with a box of salt.  His humor and his incisive, inquiring mind will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

He is survived by his wife, Beth, of Santa Fe; his sister, Julia Elizabeth Frishett and her husband, John Carroll Frishett, of Boise, Idaho; and their children: James Frishett, his wife Tina and son Ben, also of Boise; and Sharon Frishett Maleze, her husband Patrice, of Washington, D.C.  He is also survived by his dear emotional support dog, Max and ornery cats, Tux and Tai. 

Beth also thanks Egis Complete Care for Peter’s wonderful caregivers, most recently Jim, Francisco, Raquel, Janet, Peter, Elvia, and many other wonderful caregivers throughout the years.

Because of Copvid-19 restrictions, funeral arrangements will be private.  In the future, a memorial to Peter’s life will be in production.  If desired, donations in Peter’s name may be made to Prairie Dance Theatre (, the Michael J. Fox Parkinson’s Foundation (, or the Krishnamurti Foundation in Ojai, CA (    

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