Michael C. Palmer of Davidson, North Carolina, passed away on January 27, 2022, a few months after his 90th birthday celebration. Born in Chongqing, China in 1931 to Walter and Helen (Geiser) Palmer, Mike spent his first ten years moving between Chinese cities where his father represented the Standard Oil Co. Often described as a born story teller who never met a stranger, Mike maintained a lifelong connection to China.
Educated at Amherst College, and Harvard Business School, Mike served in the 25th Infantry Division during the Korean Conflict and later became a proud member of Maine’s American Legion. Mike and Paula Pederson Holden married in 1957 in Maine’s historic Phippsburg Congregational Church United Church of Christ where Mike assisted in developing the Linden Tree Meetinghouse.
Mike’s career spanned several executive positions in the glass and chemical industries. He raised his children in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. They spent many happy hours hiking and canoeing in the Pine Barrens with the Cub Scouts and Indian Guides. Today, Mike’s wife, Paula Palmer continues to live in Davidson. His daughter Martha and her husband Gary Todd live in Seneca PA, their daughter Sarah Jamison in San Diego CA. Son, Gordon Palmer and partner Mary Lou Kornafel remain in Cherry Hill NJ. Daughter Ellen and her husband Martin Walsh reside in Oxnard CA. Son Michael and his wife Meagan Muse Palmer live in Denver NC, their daughter McCauley in Chapel Hill NC and son Michael Pederson Palmer (Cale) in Athens GA. Son Thomas, his wife Lyn Francoeur Palmer and their children Tess and Will live in Davidson NC.
Mike relished the camaraderie of friends from China, his canoeing days, and his Amherst College years where he maintained a special connection with fellow members of the 1952 New England championship tennis team. Later, Maine friends formed The Trekkers of Maine, comprising couples who moved North intending to follow an entrepreneurial path. They tasted sugar-on-snow during maple sugaring season and watched Coast Guard Cutters break up ice floes as spring floods approached. They hiked Monhegan Island’s cliffs and marveled as thousands of monarch butterflies stopped enroute to Mexico. They trekked through forests vibrant with fall color.
In 2004 the Palmers moved to Davidson, NC where Mike participated in Davidson College Presbyterian Church’s weekend Room at the Inn program for Charlotte’s homeless residents. Mike exercised at the YMCA and the OWLS. He joined the Southenders Men’s Club, enjoying walks in Jetton Park, breakfast groups, and the monthly Book Club meeting. Members helped him bring a lifelong dream to fruition by bringing his late father Walter Palmer’s World War II contribution to the attention of a military aviation museum.
In 1945 then Lt. Col Walter Palmer was awarded the Legion of Merit for conceiving the need, planning, developing, and putting into use the light weight, durable, aluminum drum for transporting gasoline over the Himalayan Mountains, (the Hump), thereby saving many lives and dollars. Mike and his brother Walter gathered more than 200 stories depicting their father’s 37-year career with Standard Oil’s Far East Operation into a book entitled One Hard Boiled Egg.
The family wishes to thank Hospice of Lake Norman, Davidson College Presbyterian Church, Southenders Men's Club, and Olde Knox Commons for their constant and compassionate care of Mike during his illness.
A celebration of the life of Michael Palmer will be held at Davidson College Presbyterian Church’s Lingle Chapel, in Davidson, NC at 4 p.m. on Friday, February 11, 2022. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Hospice and Palliative Care of the Charlotte Region, or to Phippsburg Fire and Rescue Department, 1042 Main Rd, Phippsburg, ME 04562.