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Nuala Pell, 89; widow of US senator

Mrs. Pell, a patron of the arts, posed amid hibuscus flowers in her garden in Newport, R.I., in 2004.

Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff/file

Mrs. Pell, a patron of the arts, posed amid hibuscus flowers in her garden in Newport, R.I., in 2004.

NEWPORT, R.I. — Nuala Pell, widow of former US senator Claiborne Pell and a patron of the arts, died Sunday morning at Newport Hospital, according to the Providence Journal. She was 89.

Her grandson, Clay Pell, praised her 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.

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Mrs. Pell was “an extraordinary woman whose grace and decency infused everything she did and everything Senator Pell did,’’ said Senator Jack Reed, who won Claiborne Pell’s seat in 1996 after the senator of 36 years retired. “She was just a wonderful person.”

Curt Columbus, artistic director of Trinity Repertory Company, called her “a true gem, a stalwart patron of the arts and a true supporter of this state,” according to the Journal.

Last year, Mrs. Pell received lifetime achievement recognition for her public service at Salve Regina University. The Newport university has established the Nuala Pell Leadership Program in Public Service, along with the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy, named after the senator, who died in 2009.

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