This obituary originally appeared on O’Neill Hayes Funeral Home.

Margaret L. Palmer 96, of Newport, RI, died peacefully on Saturday, April 18, 2020 at her home with her daughter by her side. She was born in Newport on January 9, 1924, to the Honorable Judge Mortimer A. Sullivan and Dorothy (Rooney) Sullivan. “Peggy” was married to the late Lt. Francis Gibbs Palmer.

Peggy graduated from Rogers High School and Pembroke College (Brown University) At an early age, she was surrounded by classical music and politics. Inspired by her mother, who was an accomplished violinist, she continued to enjoy classical music throughout her life. Her father, the longest serving Mayor of Newport (1923–1935), supported her passion for government and civic engagement.

For over 35 years, Peggy was an esteemed English teacher at Rogers High School. To say she was passionate about education was an understatement. Rarely a day went by that Nana Peg (as she was lovingly called) did not tell a story about a student she admired or encountered around town.

Peggy was an avid reader of numerous periodicals, always searching for witty clippings to send to her family and friends. She was actively involved on Aquidneck Island, as a member of Hazards Beach, The Preservation Society of Newport County, Newport Historical Society, Newport Art Museum and Friends of the Waterfront. In her retirement, Peggy volunteered delivering Meals on Wheels.

In the summer, Peggy was happiest sitting with her childhood friends in their special spot by the boardwalk at Hazard’s Beach. During her retirement, she surrounded herself with her Newport friends, while making long lasting relationships with other ‘snowbirds’ in Jensen Beach, Florida. 

Peggy is survived by her daughter, Margaret F. Palmer and her husband William V. Cooney Jr. of Longboat Key, FL, Newport, RI and Kennebunk ME, her grandchildren; Timothy L. Sullivan III and his wife, Katie of Boston, MA, Kathleen S. Martens and her husband Christopher of  Norwalk, CT, Shannon Taliercio and her husband Christopher of Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ, Liam Cooney and his wife Jessica of Wilton, CT, Coleman Cooney of Philadelphia, PA, Siobhan Collins and her husband Joseph of Methuen, MA, Dane Cooney and his wife Christine of Harwich, MA as well as several great-grandchildren, nephews, nieces, grandnephews and grandnieces.

She was predeceased by her sister, M. Dorothy Palmer, her brothers, H. Blake Sullivan and Mortimer A. Sullivan Jr. She is survived by her sister in law, Rosemary Sullivan

Peggy was proud of her family. She leaves behind nothing but beautiful memories. She will be remembered for her sharp wit and sense of humor. We are especially thankful for the loving care Peggy received from Mary, Margie, Neia, Sheila, Linda, Sue, Claire, Leigh, Betty, Stacy, Sue, and Suzy.

Burial will be private, and a funeral Mass will be held at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Meals on Wheels, 70 Bath Street, Providence, RI 02908

Community Submission

This content has been contributed to What's Up Newp. The views and opinions included within are not necessarily those of What's Up Newp, our contributors, or our advertisers.

We welcome letters to the editor on current local topics. Email them to