Myrna Palley, philanthropist, art collector and a great friend and supporter of the arts in our community has left this world. Her loss will be felt for years by the NWSA family and her actions and dedication to our students will forever keep her memory alive. A New World School of the Arts Foundation Board member since the founding of the school in 1986, Myrna and her husband Sheldon Palley were among the most loyal supporters of New World School of the Arts, present at every event showing their care and dedication to the advancement of our student’s artistic training and education. “Her acts of kindness and philanthropy went beyond financial donations – Myrna cared about every facet of our students’ wellbeing, whether it was helping to provide a home for a student in need, taking the time to talk to them about their interests or writing a check on the spot to purchase dance shoes or art supplies for an upcoming performance, she always demonstrated her unconditional support,” said Jeffrey Hodgson, Provost and CEO of New World School of the Arts. “Myrna and Sheldon have supported so many students and programs of New World School of the Arts over so many years. Her legacy of love for the arts, our students and our community will last forever and I’m eternally grateful for the care and support she showed to me and all of us at NWSA.”
Dr. Hodgson’s sentiment was echoed by Richard A. Klein, founding Provost of New World School of the Arts, who together with Myrna and many other visionaries helped shape the school that it is today, “Myrna was an enthusiastic member of that group of original supporters of the school, so many of whom remain as vibrant and supportive as ever. There was never a challenge Myrna would not jump in to help solve on behalf of students. Her energy was truly remarkable and her generosity unmatched. She will always be remembered.”
Abbey Chase, NWSA Foundation Board member and friend of the Palleys, recalls, “Along with her dear friends, Lydia Harrison and Carmen Bishopric, Myrna helped found the school and together they became its most ardent supporters. As members of the Foundation Board for decades, they helped raise millions of dollars to build an endowment for college scholarships while always insuring there were “margin of excellence” dollars to enhance the high school experience for students. She always had a special place in her heart for NWSA and our students.”
Lydia Harrison, who along with Abbey and many other long-time board members have offered decades of steadfast service and support to NWSA through the Foundation Board and other important endeavors highlights of her friend, who shared her passion in the arts, “Myrna was a voice and great supporter for the arts and education and she knew how important this was for the entire community. We could always depend on her to take up the challenge and she never disappointed. I am missing a great friend and ally.”
Myrna knew each of the four NWSA art division deans on a personal level as well, often engaging in lengthy conversations to explore how she could be of help. These conversations went beyond learning the financial needs of the students – “She cared about each one of us and knew what our interests were,” said Maggy Cuesta, former dean of visual arts at NWSA. “I really loved my moments with your mother, she mentioned to Myrna’s daughter, Lisa Palley, “...we always discussed our love for necklaces!”
Daniel Lewis, NWSA founding dean of dance referred to Myrna as “a loyal and heroic supermom” to the students at New World School of the Arts. “For 25 years when I was dean of dance, whenever a student had a need I called Myrna, and she came to the rescue.” With a smile Lewis mentions, “she even gave me a letter clarifying, that any funds donated to the dance division can be used by the dean however he feels fit, as long as it went to students. Myrna was a hero to young talented artists, helping them reach their goals of stardom. Bravo Myrna! You were my hero as well and will be missed by so many.”
In addition to her love of New World School of the Arts, Myrna Palley was an avid art collector who was deeply and actively involved in a plethora of artistic and philanthropic endeavors in the South Florida community. “Myrna’s passion reached beyond NWSA to help her beloved University of Miami by supporting the Lowe Art Museum, helping enhance the art glass program in the art department and, of course, creating the Palley Pavillion with Sheldon to house their outstanding collection of art glass to share with the community,” said Abbey Chase. “She also was an ardent supporter of The Education Fund and their programs making sure arts education was at the forefront. But, she always had a special place in her heart for NWSA and our students. The community has lost such a passionate arts education advocate and champion... she left a rich legacy by her words and her deeds. A beloved “force of nature”.