Freeport, ME – Anna (Neddeau) Palmer passed away peacefully on August 17, 2022, at Portsmouth Regional Hospital, Portsmouth, NH after a brief illness. Fortunately, her three daughters were by her side during her hospital stay. Anna was born in Presque Isle, Maine on July 22, 1930, to Elden and Edith (Yeomans) Neddeau.
Anna knew from an early age that she wanted to be a Registered Nurse. In her early years of high school, Anna went to the local hospital and asked what she could do to help in the hospital to gain experience. After graduating from Presque Isle High School, she proudly attended the Madigan School of Nursing in Houlton, Maine (along with residencies in Baltimore, MD, Portland, ME and Providence, RI).
After graduating from nursing school, she began working at the Houlton hospital and married Ralph E. Palmer. Together they raised six children, first in Houlton and then in Madawaska.
After moving to Madawaska, Anna worked as the school nurse (the first in the history of the school system). She collaborated with school personnel and local doctors to create an excellent school health program.
Listening to Anna, you may not have realized the full extent of her optimism but if you watched how she lived her life you would definitely know. She was a life-long learner who displayed wisdom, playfulness, strength and above all resilience. In addition to losing her husband and many close friends, she lived through the deaths of her three sons: Jim, Andy, and John.
Anna was immensely proud of her work as a nurse and her role as a mother. She not only juggled both family and work admirably, she also had the gift of cultivating meaningful and long-lasting friendships throughout her life. Within those friendships, she served as a confidante, a sage, a guide, a companion, and an inspiration.
She was known for her inclusivity and enthusiasm to host. This included a diverse group of friends. There were always extra places set for the holidays for co-workers and friends who were unable to be with their own family. Living in the County, most meals included potatoes, Anna always threw in extra potatoes to bake – just in case someone showed up unexpectedly. A tradition her daughters continue.
Like so many, Anna’s social life was impacted by the pandemic, yet she still prioritized reaching out to friends and family by phone daily. During the last weeks of her life, she seemed to be making up for lost opportunities. Her family and others are amazed by the number of people she connected with and the number of adventures she had in recent weeks – she saw dozens of friends and family members she had not recently been able to visit. She attended a 70th birthday party of a family friend which afforded her the opportunity to see a collection of old friends. One of the friends stated her smile was the biggest he had ever seen her have. She joyfully attended the wedding of a close family friend that she has been looking forward to for months. She was even able to help babysit a 16-month-old who sweetly paused her play time to hold hands with “Mrs. P”. She traveled to the “County” to visit her sister, Betty and enjoyed a picnic with her nephews and their spouses. Then on to the Saint John Valley where she visited with her beloved friends Selma and Phyllis who she has known for well over half a century. In keeping with her way, she also chose to pop in and see if other friends were home throughout the trip – fortunately, several were!
During the last week of her life, she spoke to several friends by phone, saw the tall ships in Portsmouth and had the “best lobster roll I’ve ever tasted.” She was also able to die as she had always hoped she would – living life to the fullest right until the end.
In addition to her parents, Anna was predeceased by her husband, Ralph and her three sons Jim, Andy, and John. She is survived by her daughters, Jane Palmer and husband Barry Fussell of Durham NH, daughters Martha and Mary Palmer of Freeport, ME, daughter-in-law Zika Rea and husband Peter Rea of Blowing Rock, NC. She is also survived by her sister Betty Higgins of Presque Isle along with nephews Stephen, Mark, and Frank and a dear friend, Jim Lausier who she loved like a son.
A gathering will be held to celebrate Anna’s life on September 10, 2022, beginning at 2PM at 63 Pleasant Hill Road in Freeport where she lived for the past ten years. As she would have done with any celebration, all are welcome to attend. Additional details about her burial in Houlton, Maine will be forthcoming.
In lieu of flowers, reach out to a friend to say hello. If so inclined, donations may be made to Zap Endurance Foundation https://zapendurance.com/ the non-profit organization that her son, Andy, and his wife Zika founded in 2001. Zap Endurance is a training center for post-collegiate, Olympic hopeful distance runners.