Nuala Pell passes away at 89

Nuala Pell, widow of the late U.S. Sen. Claiborne Pell was known as a great patron of the arts.

Nuala Pell, widow of the late U.S. Sen. Claiborne Pell and a patron of the arts, has died.

Nuala Pell passed away early Sunday morning at Newport Hospital.

Nuala is the grandmother of Clay Pell. Clay Pell, praised her on Sunday for her support of the arts, education, and her humanitarian service. He said the family could not have asked for a better parent or grandparent. In a statement he said, "Our entire family is heartbroken by my grandmother's passing. She dedicated her life to her family and to the service of others. From her work in support of the arts, education, and her humanitarian service, she was a beacon of hope to many. We could not have asked for a better parent or grandparent than Mimi. We will love and miss her more than words can express."

The family said her funeral is scheduled for Monday, April 21 at Trinity Episcopal Church in Newport.

Immeidately after her death, tributes poured in for Nuala Pell.{}{} Sen. Jack Reed in a statement said "I join with all Rhode Islanders in mourning the loss of an extraordinary woman, Nuala Pell. She had a timeless elegance and charm and was just a beautiful person.

"It was truly an honor to know both Nuala and Claiborne Pell. I will be forever grateful for their enduring friendship, leadership, and devotion to our great state. Together, they touched so many lives and helped so many individuals.

"Nuala Pell worked hard to give others opportunity and she did it with incredible grace, decency, and compassion. A civic leader in her own right, Nuala was a spirited champion of the arts, education, and public service. Her lifetime commitment to service and generous contributions to our community will continue to impact countless lives.

"I extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Nuala Pell. Her legacy of kindness, generosity, and working to expand opportunity for others will continue to live on."

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said, "Nuala Pell's remarkable lifetime of public service left an indelible mark on our state. Alongside her husband, Sen. Claiborne Pell, she was a passionate advocate for the arts and humanities and, above all, for the people of our Ocean State. I will always remember her as a cherished friend, and I will miss her deeply. My thoughts and prayers are with the Pell family."

Congressman David N. Cicilline said: "I was deeply saddened to learn that Nuala Pell passed away earlier today. She was a great friend and an extraordinary woman who was deeply committed to serving the common good. Together with her husband, Sen. Claiborne Pell, Nuala served Rhode Island and our nation in so many ways. Her generosity, philanthropy, and commitment to civic duty are a great loss to our state. I extend my condolences to the entire Pell family."

And Congressman Jim Langvin sent along this statement on the passing of Nuala Pell: "Sen. Claiborne Pell was one of the greatest public servants in Rhode Island history, and his wife Nuala has always embodied those same values of selflessness, courage and kindness. I was proud to count the Pells as mentors and friends, and it is with a heavy heart and deep sadness that we say goodbye to Nuala. Her steadfast commitment and service to Rhode Island will never be forgotten. My thoughts and prayers are with the entire Pell family at this difficult time."

Nuala Pell was a great advocate for the arts. Trinity Rep released a statement which said in part, "Her passionate advocacy for the arts and education were astounding to all. To say that she was a lovely and gracious woman is an understatement."

Claiborne Pell, represented Rhode Island in the U.S. Senate for 36 years until he retired in 1997. He died in 2009.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.