23 Aug 2014
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Obituary: Dr. Mercedes S. Coulombe, 81, First Female Newport Superintendent

Obituary: Dr. Mercedes S. Coulombe, 81, First Female Newport Superintendent

Dr. Mercedes Santos Coulombe was called home in the evening hours of April 19, 2014 while visiting with relatives in Bethel, Maine. After celebrating the Easter Vigil Mass, she succumbed to a sudden illness. Mercy was eighty years old at the time of her passing.

A lifelong resident of Newport, RI, she was born there on July 13, 1933 to Joseph and Mercedes Santos. She was the youngest of three, with brothers Joseph and Francis, and had an especially close relationship with her older brother Francis, whom she cared for until his death.

Mercy attended St. Catherine Academy in Newport and graduated in 1951. Thereafter, she attended the College of Our Lady of the Elms in Chicopee, MA, and graduated Cum Laude in 1955. She remained in the area and secured her first position as an elementary school teacher in Agawam, MA. Robert R. Coulombe Sr., art teacher extraordinaire, entered her classroom and won her heart. They wed in 1957.

The couple returned to Newport. Three children soon followed, Mercedes C. Mellekas, Robert R. Coulombe Jr., and Dr. Triste M. Coulombe. She began her lifelong employment with the Newport School Department.

Mercy, ever determined and diligent, rose through the ranks. She became a Principal at Coggeshall Elementary School. She then obtained her Doctorate of Education from Nova University in 1989. As Head of Curriculum, she developed and implemented the Gifted Child Program for elementary students in Newport. In 1998, the Newport School Board selected Mercy to become the first female Superintendent of the Newport School Department. She held this position for four year and retired in 2001. After serving with the School Department, she established the Mercedes S. Coulombe Scholarship, awarded annually to students who have demonstrated outstanding leadership skills. She is remembered for her lifelong dedication to education and the students of Newport.

Mercy was a lifelong member of Jesus Savior Church, and served there both as a Sunday school teacher, and on the Parrish Council. She was a long term member of the Portuguese-American Federation and served as its Secretary. She was a generous benefactor of Newport Hospital, served on the Board of the Bank of Newport, and supported many charities and boards throughout Newport County.

Mercy travelled the world with family and friends, and especially enjoyed reading, boating, and skiing.

She is survived by her loving husband, Robert, her three children, Mercedes, Bob, and Triste, and grandchildren Jaime, Nicolas, Missy, Daniel, Kylie, Ciara and Megan.

Visitation was held on Wednesday, April 23, 2014 at the O’Neill-Hayes Funeral Home at 465 Spring Street, Newport, RI, between the hours of 4-7. Funeral Service was held at Jesus Savior Church on Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 11:30 am. Burial immediately following the service at St. Columba Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Benedictines of Jesus Crucified, Monastery of the Glorious Cross, 61 Burban Drive, Branford, CT 06045.

Her love and generosity, dedication to family, friends, and service, and above all her tenacious and unbounded spirit, will never be forgotten.

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