Carolyn Faye Palmer
Carolyn Faye Palmer, 94,
of Mount Vernon, Iowa, passed away on April 29,
2020, following a time of declining health at the
Lisbon Rehabilitation Center. She deeded her body to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics for research. A memorial service will be held when we can gather safely.
Carolyn was born on Dec. 19, 1925, on the family farm outside of Mount Vernon, where her father also was born, to Lloyd and Florence (Goudy) Neal. Carolyn grew up there and attended the one-room schoolhouse just north of their farm through eighth grade, when she entered Mount Vernon High School. She began piano lessons with her mother at age 5, continuing with formal lessons throughout her education. She sang in and served as accompanist for the high school choir, graduating in 1942. Carolyn attended Cornell College, graduating in 1946 with a Bachelor of Music.
After her graduation from Cornell, Carolyn taught elementary music in Washington, Iowa, where she met her future husband, Willard "Bill" Palmer. They were married Aug. 22, 1948, and moved to Bill's family farm. They farmed in the Washington and Ainsworth areas until the death of her mother in 1955, when they moved to Carolyn's family farm in Mount Vernon, where they lived for the rest of their lives.
In 1964, Carolyn became the music teacher at the elementary school in Mount Vernon until retiring in 1991. Carolyn impacted thousands of students through her love of music and her compassionate encouragement of her students. She believed one of the greatest curriculum additions she made was in the area of world music, with a primary emphasis in Japanese music. She learned to play the koto, a 13-stringed Japanese musical instrument. Former students share that they fondly remember koto lessons, the yearly fifth-grade musical and learning popular songs in her classes.
A lifelong Democrat and proud union member, Carolyn served as president and negotiator of the Mount Vernon Education Association. She was an active member of the East Central Iowa Education Association, the National Education Association, the Iowa Music Educators Association and the National Music Educators Association.
Carolyn's faith and involvement in the First Presbyterian Church in Mount Vernon always was a priority for her. She was dedicated to the music ministry of the church through choir and worship. She served on the church session and various committees. While attending a Presbyterian women's gathering in 1964, Carolyn made a pledge to herself to always try to be an instrument for reconciliation, which was demonstrated through her lifelong commitment to social justice. She willingly gave of her time, talents and treasure.
Her numerous interests included weekly bridge groups, membership in a number of social groups, jazz music and traveling. The door always was open with extra seats at the dinner table. She loved her family unconditionally. Carolyn reflected, "I felt the love of my children and their families and, of course, Bill, who I miss so much, but am grateful for our life together. ... I was loved by my family and by God. What more could there be?"
Survivors include her son, Craig Palmer (Linda Johnson); daughters, Mary Palmer and Susan Palmer; grandchildren, Joshua Allard (Jessi Napiorkowski), Jessica Allard (John Huffman), Paul Pearson (Amy) and Steve Pearson (Zinna); grandson-in-law, Paul Scott;
great-grandchildren, Cody Pearson (Breanna), Adriana Pearson, Makenzie Pearson, Amber Pearson, Skyler Pearson, Cody Daniels and Morgan Daniels; and her great-great-grandchildren. Carolyn was preceded in death by her husband of 56 years, Bill Palmer; her parents, Lloyd and Florence Neal; and granddaughter, Laura Scott.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to First Presbyterian Church, Mount Vernon, Cornell College in Mount Vernon and the Madge Phillips Center, Cedar Rapids. Thank you to Dr. Ben Daniels and Judy Knight at UnityPoint, Mount Vernon; the staff of the Lisbon Rehab Center; and the staff of Meth-Wick, for their compassion and loving care of Carolyn.
Please share your support and memories with Carolyn's family at www.stewartbaxter.com under obituaries.