Sharon Palmer
1943 - 2020
BORN
1943
DIED
2020
FUNERAL HOME
Thomas L. Neilan & Sons Funeral Home - New London
12 Ocean Avenue
New London, CT
Palmer, Sharon
Waterford- Sharon Irene Murphy Palmer, 77, of Waterford, died Friday, December 4, 2020 at her home.
She was born in Middletown October 29, 1943, the daughter of Frederick and Anna Gallivan Murphy. She married George Palmer, Jr., November 3, 1973. He predeceased her November 25, 2013 after 40 years of marriage.
Mrs. Palmer was a graduate of East Hampton High School, class of 1961; and received a Bachelor of Science from St. Joseph College in 1965, and earned a Master's Degree in Marine Science from Eastern Connecticut State University in 1978 and began a teaching career at Hale Ray in Moodus. She went on to work for the Army as a teacher in Germany where she spent her down time touring Europe in a VWS Bus. After she returned from Europe she started teaching at Clark Lane Jr. High in Waterford teaching Math, Science and the gifted and talented program. In 1989 she took a position with the AFT-CT as the first vice president, and from there was elected to the position of President.
Her daughter Kerry O'Neill posted on Facebook, "Today the world lost a powerhouse, a woman that was a force to be reckoned with. A person who worked tirelessly for the betterment of our municipality, our state, its people, our Education system, the working people and all that encompasses what is right and just in this world."
Sharon was involved in politics as a member of the Waterford RTM for 23 years, serving on many boards task forces and committees from a local to a national level, some elected, some appointed, and some volunteered. She left the RTM of Connecticut and was appointed a labor commissioner for the State of Connecticut by former Governor Daniel Malloy. She retired in 2015 after working for 58 years. In her downtime she enjoyed a good tag sale, antiquing, and car cruising with her late husband George in their 1959 Cadillac Eldorado.
Sharon was proud of her 100% Irish heritage hailing from County Cork in Ireland.
In addition to her daughter Kerry O'Neill, she is survived by an aunt, Marty McBrien of Portland, CT; a brother-in-law Roger Palmer of Colchester, CT; her former son-in-law Timothy O'Neill of New London, CT, numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and extended family.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 AM on Thursday in St. Mary Star of the Sea Church followed by interment in St. Mary Cemetery. Condolences may be shared on Sharon's memorial page at www.neilanfuneral home.com.
Her family would like to thank the Waterford Emergency Services, nurses and physicians of 4.1 at the Lawrence and Memorial Hospital; Kindred Care at Home of Saybrook; and Hartford Healthcare at Home Hospice for their dedication and care.
Published by Middletown Press on Dec. 7, 2020.
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MEMORIAL EVENTS
Dec
10
Mass of Christian Burial
11:00a.m.
St. Mary Star of the Sea Church
CT
Funeral services provided by:
Thomas L. Neilan & Sons Funeral Home - New London
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39 Entries
I was so sorry to hear of Sharon's passing. This is a loss for all union workers in Connecticut, as she always had them at heart. As a person who has known Sharon for many, many years and worked with her, I will miss hear smile and her unique laugh. I was honored to be the recipient of The President's award when Sharon was AFT Ct. President. Although she is no longer with us, her spirit will remain in all the work she has done. She will not be forgotten.


John Altieri
Friend
December 12, 2020
The world was a better place because of Sharon--what a powerhouse-I got to know her through Union business and at conventions and meetings--she was a bright light that will be sorely missed--peace to her and her family--Tommy Burns
Tommy Burns
Acquaintance
December 11, 2020
May the love of friends and family carry you through your grief. Sharon was a sweet and kind person.
Deb Foell
Friend
December 11, 2020
I was so sorry to hear about Sharon's passing. I worked with Sharon for many years and was the recipient of The President's Award from here. She and I served on many committees and councils together. I'll always remember her smile and laugh. She was a very unique person and always worked for union members so their conditions would improve. Connecticut has lost a strong union person, and I have lost a friend.
John Altieri
Coworker
December 11, 2020
David Roche
December 10, 2020
Kerry you said it perfectly in your post. Sharon was a powerful woman and a person to be reckoned with. She also knew how to have fun and, unless seriously engaged in fighting for or negotiating an issue, she always had a welcoming smile for everyone. She stuck to her guns and her principles and had all the right instincts about social justice. She wil be missed. My condolences to you and her wide extended family for this great loss.
Mary Moninger-Elia
Friend
December 9, 2020
Sharon was a beautiful woman who talked with a smile. Glad I had the times to have met her. Condolences to all affected.
Zelda Grant
Acquaintance
December 9, 2020
Emily Byrne
December 9, 2020
I was fortunate to have crossed paths with this amazing woman at the Capitol over twenty years ago and proud to call her my friend. Rest in power Sharon
Millie Torres-Ferguson
Friend
December 9, 2020
A sweet and beautiful person i had the pleasure of knowing my condolences go out to the family
Adreanne good
Friend
December 8, 2020
Dear Kerry, My condolences for loss of your mother, she was a wonderful force of nature to the Waterford community and we are forever grateful!
Kerry C Morth
Acquaintance
December 8, 2020
"Let's catch a quick breakfast", Goldy's, The Shack, McDonald's, or sitting in the car at Dunkin. We were always late getting to where we were supposed to be. The Sharon giggle. So much fun behind that woman to be reckoned with. Thank you Kerry for sharing your mom with us.
Cheryl
Friend
December 8, 2020
Fierce, committed, funny and wise, that is how I think of Sharon. When I first met her at the Labor Council office in Waterford, CT in late 80's as a young organizer she was just kind. Very welcoming and supporting to me who was clueless in those days. She never made me feel like I was not seasoned enough to be at the table. As years progressed her don't take yourself too seriously attitude and learn to laugh when things are not going well is a lesson I use regularly. I was glad to see her rise to President and then Labor Commissioner she deserved to lead. Kerry, my condolences to you and your family. She was so proud of you when you graduated from college, you could not shake the smile or blunt her joy. I am sure you gave her many more smiles and joy. I hope the memories give you comfort. I was lucky to know her.
Hugs, Wendy Fields and family.
Wendy Fields
Friend
December 8, 2020
The world has lost an amazing person. A fighter and passionate advocate for working people, but always with a sense of humor when needed. I worked with Sharon for many years at the General Assembly from the early 90s on. She was the real deal. We will all miss her and mourn her passing. My condolences to her family.
Denise Merrill Secretary of the State
Coworker
December 8, 2020
Sorry for your loss
John St.denis
Friend
December 8, 2020
I am very sad to hear of Sharon's passing. I was privileged to have the opportunity to work closely with Sharon during my 14-year tenure as Senate Chairman of the CT General Assembly's Education Committee. As those years progressed I always admired Sharon's tenacity and keen political skills in advocating for teachers, paraprofessionals and all of her AFT members. Sharon's daughter Kerry put it best, Sharon was definitely a "powerhouse."

Sharon and I became friends throughout the years and would often go to lunch or breakfast with our great friend and colleague, former Senator Melodie Peters. Sharon and Melodie were one great pair that could beat a full house any day of the week!

I have many fond memories of Sharon Palmer. We had many great times and both reveled in our Irish heritage. If I had to think of one word to best describe Sharon it would be loyal. She was profoundly loyal to her friends and colleagues.

I extend my deepest sympathy to Kerry and all of Sharon's family.
Tom Gaffey
Friend
December 8, 2020
In loving memory of a wonderful person. There was only one Sharon Palmer who was on the front lines of justice and caring for the working person. Labor has lost a terrific advocate.
Steve Ozga
Friend
December 8, 2020
I worked with Sharon in the late 90's, my first exposure to unions and politics. She was a great leader. When I think of her, I can hear her throaty laugh and see her twinkling eyes. A trip to Goodwill with Sharon was a lesson in efficiency and thriftiness. Condolences to her family and friends.
Tracy Deegan
Coworker
December 8, 2020
Sharon was the Kindest and most giving person we were blessed to call our cousin. She lived a remarkable life with many significant accomplishments. We always enjoyed discussing politics and getting her input. During her lifetime she always reached the summit of a new goal and another milestone in her life. Sharon was so proud to lead the teachers Union in Connecticut and being appointed the State of Connecticut’s Labor Commissioner. She was so driven and her energy and dedication to whatever cause she was involved with was unstoppable. She always gave more than 100% of herself in all her endeavors.

Her brother-in-law, Roger was a very loving and devoted companion throughout Sharon and George’s lives. They went everywhere together. They were blessed to have one another.

When we think of Sharon we will always be remember her with our fond and happy memories.

Maxine, David and Natalie & Families
Family
December 8, 2020
Sharon was a wonderful mentor, compatriot, citizen, friend, combattant, patriot, teacher and community member. She leaves a community better off for her work, passion, wit, and intelligence. I will miss her, as I know will her family and friends.
Betsy Ritter
Friend
December 8, 2020
Sharon was a pleasure to work with. Hardworking, pleasant and honorable, she was respected by everyone who dealt with her.
Hon. Cornelius O'Leary, former Senate Majority Leader
December 8, 2020
Natalie Wing
December 8, 2020
Late on an October Friday evening in Waterford HQ, we realized we had zero literature to hand out the next day for a Peters for People lit drop. Sharon and I drove up to a copy center in Hartford to get some literature printed that night. She patiently sat with me for a very late dinner at the Comet Diner until our order was ready. I will always remember her smile and her patience, especially with me, and her inspiration of no job too big.
Dan Pickett
Friend
December 8, 2020
Sharon will be very much missed. I will always remember her as such a good person and friend.
Wayne J Burgess
December 8, 2020
Jane Benoit
December 8, 2020
Dearest Kerry, I so loved your mother. She was the power in the house of policy for education, and she modeled for me the courage and forthrightness to face down those who wished to strip public education of its rights. We shared many laughs in various venues, including strategy lunches. She was a good friend. We made a good team: AFT & CEA. I hold her memory dear and you in my heart.
Daria Plummer
Friend
December 8, 2020
I considered Sharon one of my very good friends.Worked with her on many educational and political issues throughout the years. Me as a representative of the New Britain Federation of Teachers ( NBFT ) and Sharon as President of AFT CT. Her wonderful legacy will live on, as the battle for teacher, nurses workers rights will never end. She has fought the GOOD Fight !! She has run the race, “ welcome HOME my GOOD and FAITHFUL Servant✝“
Len Prygoda
December 8, 2020
Kerry, I am so sorry to see your mom passed away....we were great friends after we met in the 60s..she was with me when I met my husband and I remember her telling me all about your dad when she met him..and how excited she was when she found out she was having you!!!....your mom and grandparents were the nicest people ever, I loved them....my deepest sympathy to you and your family at this saddest time...my love to you....
Diana Galanto Jakiela
Friend
December 8, 2020
My condolences. I knew Sharon as a leader. Whenever I saw her. She had a smile; a great story; and some wise words. I admired her ability to see the humor in the political machinations while not losing sight of her important work and goals.
Deidra Ierardi
Friend
December 8, 2020
As a teacher at Clark Lane you were the "powerhouse" as the neighbor, your smile driving by was radiant. We will surely miss you Mrs P.
Jim Dimmock
Neighbor
December 8, 2020
Prayers of peace for your mom, Kerry. She was a dynamo and did a lot to enrich the lives of others. Proud to have known her through the EHHS class of 1961. Blessings for you as you live with your numerous memories of her.
Sydney Mintz
Classmate
December 8, 2020
You were a Power House and will be truly missed. My last time seeing you we had breakfast at The Shack. You were always in my corner, and you will be truly missed. SIP Commissioner. Dance with the angels.
William Leathers
Friend
December 8, 2020
What a formidable funny and inspiring woman. I am sending love to all in Sharon’s family.
Joanna James
Acquaintance
December 8, 2020
I will miss Sharon, and thought the world of her. We worked at the Capitol when I was a Republican House member from Watertown. Years later we found ourselves seated next to each other on a flight from DC to Bradley. It was summer, it was a happy reunion, and just as I had ordered a Coke and remarked to her, “Funny, I usually drink ginger ale on the plane,” I knocked over the Coke into her lap... and her white suit. Sharon was always patient with me at the Capitol through some tough votes, but I never saw her good humor in better display (or more tested) than that moment on the plane. God bless and Godspeed to a great leader and public servant.
Brian Flaherty
Friend
December 8, 2020
My thoughts and prayers are with Sharon's family at this time. As a member of AFT, I knew Sharon as a defender of the rights of educators and all workers. She was a powerful force in Connecticut's
Labor community. I will miss her warmth and her dedication to the causes she believed in. May she Rest In Peace.
Win Heimer
Friend
December 8, 2020
My prayers are with you at time of her loss. She spent time and socialized with workers . She talked to us. What a blessing it was to work under her
Zernona Snow
Coworker
December 8, 2020
To the Palmer Family
My thoughts and prayers are with you in your time of grief. May your memories bring you comfort. RIP Sharon.
Mark Ciliano
Acquaintance
December 8, 2020
So very sorry to hear of Mrs. Palmer's passing. Sending love. Patty, Mark and Abby Schwartz
Patty Schwartz
Friend
December 8, 2020
God has called home an exceptional soul and servant from this Earth. A true Christian who gave selflessly to her family and her community. She fought hard and often for human rights and dignity with kindness. She will always be a role model for her family, students, colleagues, and constituents. She was a class act, an extraordinary woman and one hell of an intense Irish woman. Slana fhagail agus gra aghat dear cousin. Godspeed.
Skip and Gail Gardiner
Family
December 7, 2020
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