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Esther Palmer

Date of Death: February 17, 2020

Date of Birth: July 25, 1937


Esther Palmer passed away peacefully on February 17, 2020 after a brief struggle with  cancer. Esther was born in Budapest, Hungary on July 25, 1937 to Laslo and Marika (Lenard) Goncy. Her early childhood was marred by the upheaval in eastern Europe of World War II and the Nazi regime. After losing her father in one of Hitler’s labor camps, she immigrated to the United States with her mother in 1946.
Her family initially settled in Indiana, before eventually making a home in Queens, New York.

Esther attended Michigan State University, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry. It was during this time that she met her husband the late Tony Lacognata. They eventually settled in Portland, Maine, where they raised their 2 children, Suzanne (Lacognata) Cohen, and Stu Lacognata.

She became active in local politics and affairs. She eventually became President of the League of Women Voters of Maine. Throughout that time, it became evident that her expertise was in community planning and activism. Among the organizations that she worked for were L.U.R.C (Land Use Regulatory Commission), and C.O.G (Council of Governments). She often received recognition for her tireless commitment to environmental and civic affairs. She was an avid reader and writer who had editorials published in the New York Times and various Maine newspapers. She was very active in farming and agricultural /environmental causes throughout the state.

She moved to Topsham Maine in 1983 and commuted to Augusta, to work as an Assistant Commissioner for Governor Joe Brennan. She then assisted The Maine Farmland Trust in Bowdoinham while becoming a  strong proponent for local and agricultural organizations.

One of the highlights of Esther’s civic life, was a run for the Maine State Senate in 1998. Although she narrowly lost the election to the incumbent, the time she spent going door to door in her district, meeting and talking with people gave her such incredible joy, as it truly put her in her element.

Following Esther’s retirement in the early 2000’s, her greatest joys came from her social and church activities, along with her love of gardening, music, cooking, and civic involvement. It was during this time that she met Barclay Palmer, whom she married in 2010.

Esther is survived by her husband Barclay Palmer,  her daughter, Suzanne Cohen, along with her husband , Lawrence Cohen, of Newton, Massachusetts, her son, Stu Lacognata, along with his wife, Jane David, of Portland, Maine, her adoring grandchildren ,Lily and Summer Pillsbury, Alex and Elizabeth Lacognata, and Ashley Allen, her great grandson, Wyatt Allen, and her beloved cat Linky. Along with friends too numerous to mention, Esther was also very close with Barclay Palmer JR. and his wife Dana.

A celebration of Esther’s life will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 1 Middle Street, Brunswick, Maine at 3:30 PM on Sunday February 23.

In lieu of flowers, we ask that donations be made in Esther’s name to:

Unitarian Universalist Church of Brunswick
PO Box 129
Brunswick, ME 04011

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