To say Ann Palormo was “involved” in her community is an understatement. She was a part of the Southwest Senior “family,” too. She wrote several articles for the paper and knew Publisher Keith Whelpley through their mutual involvement at the Renaissance ArtsFaire and Editor Cheryl Fallstead through the ROYALS cycling club and Las Cruces Press Women.
Through an intense dedication to helping those in need, her love of the arts, supporting education and empowering young girls, Ann gave her time, her experience, and her heart to numerous organizations in the community. She volunteered countless hours at the El Caldito Soup Kitchen, serving her incredible roasted vegetable recipe for the last two years during the Thanksgiving meal to the homeless community. At the annual Empty Bowls event, Ann would be serving water, handing out utensils, and passing out bread, although not her own delicious homemade bread.
Former co-worker and current NPR music producer Thomas Huizenga posted on Facebook about the good karma — and bread — Ann spread wherever she went, “It’s appropriate, I think, that Ann baked bread. Bread is life, it’s a staple. It’s simple, straightforward goodness that sustains. It’s Ann. It was a tangible expression of that Good Karma.”
Ann coordinated a massive muffin baking campaign every year for volunteers at the annual Doña Ana Arts Council Renaissance ArtsFaire and served on the board of DAAC for six years.
Every first Friday of the month, Ann would be downtown at the Arts Ramble, supporting local artists and connecting with her friends and family. She helped coordinate the yearly Girls Can with the American Association of University Women, showing sixth grade girls there is no limit to their dreams. In 2016, Ann was recognized as a Woman of Distinction by the Girl Scouts of the Desert Southwest.
Ann knew everyone and everyone knew Ann. But, if you didn’t know her, you knew of her or were most likely touched by her kindness in some way.
Born in Western New York, Ann later moved to Illinois, attending MacMurray College. After graduation, she moved to Chicago. There, she met and married Brian Palormo and became a lifelong fan of the recent World Series Champion Chicago Cubs. She was photo editor for Encyclopedia Britannica. In 1972, she and Brian moved their family to Kentucky. For several years, she worked at public radio station WKMS at Murray State University. She and Brian moved to Las Cruces in 1989 when she was hired as development director at KRWG Radio. Ann worked her fundraising magic with the staff and numerous volunteers during the regular on air campaigns. Her dedication to public radio continued as a member of the famous “Rowdy Bunch,” a group of wonderfully fanatic phone volunteers who were successful in raising tons of money for the station during the on-air pledge drives. Long-time KRWG anchor and now CEO/President of the Green Chamber of Commerce, Carrie Hamblen, recalled, “I would see Ann working at almost every community event in addition to coming in and answering phones. She knew this community was great because of the many charitable, arts, culture, and service groups working hard to help others.”
Her love of writing continued long past her professional career in radio. She was active in the Las Cruces Press Women. While working for University Advancement at New Mexico State University, she wrote for Panorama Magazine. When Ann’s husband, Brian, died, a scholarship was endowed in his honor. Fellow Advancement staff member, Robert Peterson, said, “Ann befriended everyone in the Aggie family, graciously shining light on their accomplishments through her service, writing, and volunteer work. Her joy for giving back was contagious, and she built friendships that last a lifetime.”
While enjoying nature, she would often compose haiku poetry. One such poem inspired friend and local composer Justin Raines to pen the choral piece Haiku Garden, which premiered in 2010. He said, “I remember when I read her haiku Stargazers on Facebook, it immediately moved me to music.”
As a Master Gardener, Ann shared her love of plants with people across the region. She found inspiration working in her yard and peace hanging out with her animals. Her boundless energy also included cycling with the women’s ROYALS group and doing aqua aerobics at the NMSU pool.
Ann passed away at Mountain View Regional Medical Center, surrounded by family, in the early hours of November 4 after suffering a stroke. Ann’s passing leaves her missed by her legions of friends and family including daughters Cynthia Palormo and Melissa Palormo-Sullivan, niece Deborah Lynne, grandson Finn Sullivan, and grand-nieces, Sofia and Luna Yañez, who called her “Tia Abuela,” as well as her pets, Mojo and Cheeky.
A celebration of Ann’s life will be held December 10 at 4 p.m. at the Center for the Performing Arts in Las Cruces.