By Sallie James
LANTANA — Hypoluxo Island resident Agnes Conroy, a lifelong academic who was married to her beloved husband, Francis, for 62 years, died on July 31 at Hospice By the Sea in Boca Raton after a lengthy illness. She was 82.
Born April 29, 1938, in Lettermore, County Galway, Ireland, Mrs. Conroy grew up on a farm when times were tough. But it didn’t stop her from becoming a standout in school. She attended Ireland’s prestigious Kylemore Abbey School on scholarship, embarking on a lifetime of academic achievement.
The school “was run by nuns and it was a secondary school and operated as a boarding school from 1922. She attended that boarding school,” her son Martin Conroy recalled. “But the local Catholic priest thought she would be better served to come home and help her mother.”
Nevertheless, Agnes Conroy went on to earn two bachelor’s degrees.
Mrs. Conroy moved to London in the 1950s, where she met her future husband, Francis. The couple was married in 1958 at St. George’s Cathedral. Mrs. Conroy later became deputy headmistress of St. Bernard’s Prep School in Slough, and headmistress of the Brigidine School in Windsor.
She met Queen Elizabeth in 1975 when the queen toured the Brigidine School. A photographer captured an image of a young Agnes Conroy shaking the queen’s gloved hand.
“She was proud she was asked to be deputy headmistress and headmistress at the other school in Brigidine,” her son said.
Mrs. Conroy also crossed paths with celebrities during her tenure at St. Bernard’s Prep School. Her students included the children of British actor Roger Moore, known for his role as James Bond; and the children of the former CEO and chairman of the H.J. Heinz Co., Tony O’Reilly, a renowned international rugby player.
Martin Conroy said his mother was always trying to help others and when she learned that the Catholic Church was reluctant to baptize Moore’s children because he was divorced, she stepped in.
“My mother took it upon herself to make sure they were baptized,” Martin Conroy said.
Mrs. Conroy left the world of academia when Francis Conroy’s construction business took off. Together, they worked at Fera Construction until moving to Palm Beach in 1988, where they rented a home on Orange Grove Road, Martin Conroy recalled. His parents lived in Palm Beach until 2004, before moving to Hypoluxo Island.
Agnes Conroy lived much of her life battling multiple sclerosis, but was not diagnosed until the late 1980s. Along the way, she tried many holistic treatments. One of the craziest involved bee venom therapy, which involved having a bee sting the base of her spine, her son recalled. The bee had other ideas.
“The bee ended up stinging my dad,” he chuckled.
Mrs. Conroy is survived by her husband; three sons, Martin of Hypoluxo Island; Francis of Palm Beach; and Peter of Naphill, Buckinghamshire, England; three grandchildren; and two sisters, Sara Kelly and Kathleen Pelletier. She was preceded in death by her brother Padraigh and her sister Moira. Services were private.