Remembering Mary Lee Partington

Mary Lee Partington, who served on NUA’s board from 2012 to 2020, including three years (2017-2020) as our board chair, passed away on April 21, 2024. Mary Lee was a passionate and charismatic emissary for NUA’s mission. She spent many years teaching English at Burrillville High School, and from this experience, she developed a strong understanding of adolescence that allowed her to communicate authentically about our work. She frequently spoke to the importance of NUA in helping young people reach “threshold” realizations about the potential for art and creativity to change their lives. In other words, she believed that NUA helped young people gain insights that permanently changed their sense of possibility.
Mary Lee was incredibly dedicated to a variety of organizations and causes, but she was probably best known as a gifted singer-songwriter and steadfast preservationist of the culture and heritage of Irish-Americans in the Blackstone River Valley. She was a founding member of the music group Pendragon, one of the regions’ foremost presenters of Celtic and Celtic-inspired music. She was also a driving force behind the creation of the Blackstone River Theater (BRT). In December of 2023, she received the John H. Chafee Heritage Award from the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor.
Mary Lee will be dearly missed by the New Urban Arts community. Her complete obituary is available here.