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Mercedes Primer Agoes

Obituary Condolences

Mercedes Hackett Primer Agoes, hospice pioneer and loving mother and grandmother, died May 24, 2013, at Parmenter's Wayside Hospice in Wayland MA. She was a former resident of Weston MA and Niantic CT. Mercedes was born November 21, 1930, in Batavia NY, to Edgar and Helen Neville Hackett. Both families had very deep roots in the farm country of Western NY and her brother still lives on the family farm in Batavia, to which Mercedes loved to return. Mercedes was very interested in genealogy and enjoyed a family visit to ancestral villages in Ireland. Mercedes earned the 1948 Bausch and Lomb Science Award at Batavia High School and won a scholarship to study science at Cornell. Not wanting to spend her life in a lab, she chose instead to enter nursing school at the University of Rochester, from which she graduated in 1953, just one class short of a Master's in Nursing. Mercedes' service in public health was long and varied . Her first job was as public health nurse in rural Genessee County NY, where she tended to farm families and migrant workers. She taught childbirth education when such classes were only rarely offered by women, and breast feeding classes when hospitals encouraged bottle feeding. In Dutchess County NY, her work with poor mothers was funded by the local and former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. She worked for the East Lyme CT public health nursing service and headed another agency in Waterford CT for many years. The late CT Governor Ella Grasso appointed Mercedes to a statewide health planning position. She was a professor of public health at Quinnipiac University. Mercedes' decision to enter the Yale University School of Public Health graduate program introduced her to hospice and what became her life's work. She worked for years at America's first hospice, Connecticut Hospice in Branford. She was instrumental in the 1988 founding of the Cottage, America's first hospice for the homeless, which shortly later became a pioneering hospice for AIDS patients. Mercedes was a dedicated volunteer. Her PTA presidency in East Lyme CT lead to her election to two terms on the Board of Education. She was an officer of the American Association of University Women. She produced several amateur plays. After moving to Weston to be near her daughter, one of the first things Mercedes did was become a regular volunteer and a Board member of the Weston Council on Aging. Her most recent move was to Traditions of Wayland, selected in part because of her desire to volunteer at Parmenter Hospice. Shortly after college, Mercedes traveled extensively around Europe on a "community ambassador" grant, giving slide presentations on her travels upon her return. That was the first of many trips she made to Europe. She loved travel, antiques and historic preservation, history, Broadway musicals and reading almost anything. She went on many Elderhostels and always enjoyed learning. Mercedes is survived by her children, Alicia Primer of Weston MA and Daniel Primer of London, England; son in law, John McDonald, and grandsons, John, Edgar and Daniel McDonald of Weston MA; her brother and sister in law, Mark and Mary Hackett of Batavia NY; her former husband, Frank Primer of Noank CT; and her dear friend, Rita Ranan of Weston MA. She is also survived by nephews and nieces. Her husband, Albert Agoes, predeceased her in December 2012. All who knew her will remember Mercedes' great kindness and compassion. A funeral service was held in Batavia NY on June 8, 2013, with burial follow in the Hackett plot in St. Joseph's Cemetery there. In lieu of flowers, Mercedes preferred that donations be made to Wayside Hospice, 10 Green Way, Wayland MA 01778.

Published in The Wayland Town Crier from June 12 to June 19, 2013
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