Lydia P. Priest


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Gloucester - Lydia Jane Pallme Priest, 78, passed away on March 31, 2019, after trying to battle late stage ovarian cancer so she could stay with us a while longer. English teacher, mother and grandmother, newspaper editor, poet, hospital chaplain, devourer of mystery novels, cunning card player, and proud Scot, Lydia never let the stroke and resulting paralysis she suffered in her late 20s stop her from living boldly and giving fully.
Lydia was born in New York City in September 1940 to William Alexandre Pallme, her Port Authority attorney father, and Helen King Pallme, her mother, who worked her way through college playing piano and delivering funny monologues at women's clubs. Lydia grew up in Bronxville, the child of stage-struck parents who had her study acting at Miss Lucie Fagan's school in Rockefeller Center, a training ground for aspiring Broadway child actors. During her high school years in Bronxville, Lydia could often be seen driving around town with style in her beloved brother Rob's MG sports car, special little sister usage rights he gave her whenever he was away at sea with the Navy. After graduating from Bronxville High, Lydia spent several undergrad years at St. Lawrence University, then hopped continents to attend the University of Edinburgh, where her grandfather had also gone. That her family makes an annual pilgrimage to the Loon Mountain Highland Games and is in possession of a Robert Burns bobble-head doll today can be traced directly back to this decision.
Lydia made her way to Washington, DC, in the 1960s, where she graduated from George Washington University. While in St. Thomas, she met her husband Walter Scott Priest, a reporter for the San Juan Star. They returned to Washington, married and started a family. After convalescing from a brain injury sustained in a car accident and delayed stroke, Lydia and Walt went searching for a coastal town with a newspaper for sale and someday sailboat mooring. They found everything they were looking for and more on Cape Ann. Together, Lydia and her husband published the weekly Rockport Eagle from 1971 to 1975, a journalistic pleasure and poor business proposition.
After subsequent stints as a mental health assistant, reading tutor for youth with disabilities, occasional middle school substitute (horrifying her daughters, also in middle school at the time), and pastoral assistant, a grayer-haired Lydia went back to school to earn her Master's in Theology from Andover Newton Theological School. She then served as a chaplain at Beverly Hospital, until her retirement, and found a loving community of faith and activism at St. John's Episcopal Church in Gloucester. Throughout her life, Lydia was also an art for art's sake poet who ranged widely from the sacred "Soul Care" to the silly "Retribution Limerick" (involving mobstahs and lobstahs), to poems about life as a person with disabilities, for whom words often came quickly to mind and slowly to mouth.
Lydia's heart, mind and courage will be deeply missed by her friends and family, including her brother Robert Pallme of Pensacola, Fla. and niece Astrid Pallme of New Port Richey, Fla.; her daughter Kate Hugel and husband Jeff of Gloucester; her daughter, Nora Priest of Gloucester; and her beloved grandchildren Caitlin Hugel, Andrew Tucker Hugel, and Joshua Priest. She wants them to carry on, being fiercely kind and open to adventure.
Please join us for a celebration of Lydia's life on Saturday, April 13, 2019, 2 p.m. at St. John's Episcopal Church, 48 Middle St, Gloucester. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her memory to the Grace Center in Gloucester or the Gloucester Education Foundation.
Published on April 4, 2019
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2 posts

Robert C Pallme
Apr 04, 2019
So long, Sis.
Apr 03, 2019