Edith “Lea” M. (Palleria) Cox, 83, of Marshfield and formerly Norwell, passed away Friday, Dec. 29 at the South Shore Hospital in Weymouth.
She was born in Haverhill on March 23, 1934, the daughter of the late Dominico and Adelina (Borrelli) Palleria.
Cox graduated from Haverhill High School with the class of 1952. She earned her undergraduate degree from the New England Conservatory of Music where she studied under Madam Sundelius. She enlisted into the Navy after earning her undergraduate degree and was honorably discharged with the rank of Lieutenant (Junior Grade). While raising her family, she went on to earn a master’s degree in Audiology and Speech Pathology from Bridgewater State University.
She was an accomplished vocalist, teacher, community activist and dedicated wife, mother and grandmother. Her singing career began at the legendary Blinstrub’s nightclub where she was the opening act for Jimmy Durante and the Maguire Sisters. She graced many with her gift as a professional singer for private events and a longtime member of the Harbor Chorale Arts Society. Her career in education spanned over 25 years as a music teacher to deaf, aphasic and disabled children.
When she wasn’t teaching, singing, or homemaking, she spent time lobbying at the Statehouse, networking internationally and coordinating efforts nationally as a leader in the anti-drug legalization movement. Her tireless efforts landed her much media attention, including a national appearance following a controversial “Murphy Brown” television episode. She was founder of Concerned Citizens for Drug Prevention, and a leader with Drug Watch International. She received many awards and honors for her contributions to the war on drugs, including an award from First Lady Nancy Reagan. In her later years, “Nanna” enjoyed spending time with her family, playing cards and Scrabble, and dining out.
Cox was predeceased by her son Charles S. Cox, who passed away in 2012, four brothers Antonio, Joseph, Nicholas and Frank Palleria and a sister Elizabeth Coppola.
She is survived by her loving husband of 56 years Charles Cox Sr. of Marshfield, three daughters Elizabeth Ryan and her husband Robert of Canton, Lori-Anne Valianti and her husband John of Marshfield and Julianna Hale and her husband Alan of Atkinson, N.H.. She also leaves behind daughter-in-law Hillary Blocker of Canton, nine grandchildren–Charles S. Cox III, Nicole Ryan, Joseph Ryan, Austin Cox, Olivia Valianti, Nicholas Valianti, Daniel Hale, Rachel Hale and Isabella Cox–as well as many nieces, nephews and cousins.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend her calling hours on Thursday, Jan. 4 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the H.L. Farmer and Sons Bradford Funeral Home, 210 South Main St. (Rt. 125) Bradford. Her funeral service will be Friday, Jan. 5 at 11 a.m. at the Atkinson Congregational Church, 101 Main St. Atkinson, N.H.. Burial will follow at Linwood Cemetery, Haverhill. In lieu of flowers, contributions in her memory can be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis Tenn. 38105 or CAALM, P.O. Box 158 Carmichael, Calif., 95609.