Mercedes "Merci" Anne Pannone née Palacio, 77, of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, died peacefully under her family's loving care on Monday, September 13, 2010, after a three-year battle with ovarian cancer.
Merci was born on February 8, 1933, in Chestnut Hill, PA, the second of five children of Josephine Blanche and Francis C. Palacio.
Merci graduated from Mount St. Joseph's Academy, Chestnut Hill, PA in 1951, and studied Fine Arts at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. It was at Catholic University that Merci met and fell in love with civil engineering student Bernard Vincent Pannone. After his service in the Korean War, Merci and Bernie were married in 1955 and started their family in Washington, DC. They later moved back to Pennsylvania where Merci, in addition to raising five children, was very active in the local arts community. She founded and was president of the Whitemarsh Community Art Center in 1964, still in existence to this day.
In 1972 Merci and Bernie moved their family to South Carolina where Merci was an active member of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Greenwood and a member and organist at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in McCormick. In 1979, Merci embarked on her 17-year-long professional career, working as Food Service Director for the Piedmont Agency on Aging in Greenwood. She was instrumental in improving and expanding the "Meals on Wheels" program. In recognition of her tireless years of service and dedication, the program's new facility, built in 1992, was named the "Mercedes A. Pannone Nutrition Center", which now serves 650 meals a day in Greenwood and Abbeville Counties of South Carolina! A firm believer in community involvement, Merci also volunteered for Habitat for Humanity in the Greenwood area and the Greenwood Performing Arts.
Merci and Bernie moved to Chapel Hill in 2000, where Merci dedicated herself to caring for her husband during his long illness with Parkinson's disease and enjoying their local and visiting children and grandchildren. Merci and Bernie were members of St. Thomas More Catholic Church and Merci recently became a member of The Newman Center on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill where she was comforted and enlightened by her participation in a wonderful prayer group, Women Who Pray.
Compassion and strength always her hallmarks, Merci's final act of giving back was to plan and hold Toby's Benefit for Kids' Cancer just months before her death. The event raised over $4000 for pediatric cancer research.
Merci is survived by her five children: Bernard Pannone (Kathleen) of Raleigh, NC, Stephen Pannone (Mooki) of Brooklyn, NY, David Pannone (Betsy) of Seattle, WA, Gregory Pannone (Sheri) of Rochester Hills, MI and Anna Hoffmeyer (Greg), of Chapel Hill; eight grandchildren; two sisters.
Her spouse Bernard, and two of her siblings, Blanche Palacio Kammer, and Lawrence F. Palacio predecease Merci.
The Funeral Mass will be celebrated Monday, October 11th at 10:00am at The Newman Center on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill.
Merci and her family are grateful for memorial donations to the Memorial Sloane-Kettering Cancer Center, www.mskcc.org; or Cornucopia Cancer Support Center, 5517 Durham Chapel Hill Blvd., Suite 1000, Durham NC 27702.