PALMER PHYLLIS MARYNICK PALMER Phyllis Marynick Palmer, Professor Emeritus of American Studies and Women's Studies at George Washington University, died of cancer in her home on April 13, 2014, at age 70 after several months of supportive care from Washington Hospice. Dr. Palmer was born in Dallas, Texas, graduated from Oberlin College and completed her doctorate at Ohio State University. She was a faculty member at Mount Holyoke College before moving to George Washington University in 1977. At GWU, she directed the Women's Studies program for more than ten years, and twice served as chair of American Studies, where she transformed a small unit of accomplished scholars into a significantly larger program that became one of the most successful in the field. She was also a pioneering member of the university's Urban Food Task Force. Dr. Palmer taught a course on Food Politics in which she shepherded students through civic engagement projects on fair trade goods and food labeling. She inspired students with her local political engagement, shopping for her own food almost exclusively at the DuPont Circle FRESHFARM Market, participating in Sustainable DC's Food Working Group, composting, and providing occasional volunteer labor on a local farm. Among Phyllis' many legacies, is her work to engage white people in the process of improving how we live together across the issues of race and gender. Her book, Living as Equals, as well as her life, convey much of what she valued. Dr. Palmer was a mentor and advisor to several generations of students, and a friend and ally to her colleagues. She was a delightful presence to her wide circle of friends and family, whom she described using the words of poet Stanley Kunitz as "the tribe of my affections". She was a loving godmother to Elizabeth Johnson whom she raised as her own and grandmother to Elizabeth's daughter Cayenne. She is predeceased by her husbands historian Dr. Marcus Cunliffe and architect Joe Stubblefield. Phyllis' energy, generosity of spirit, and commitment to social justice, as well as her honesty, love, and courage in her last year of life, remain an inspiration to those who knew her. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m., Saturday, June 14, 2014 at the Friends Meeting of Washington, 2111 Florida Avenue NW, Washington DC (http://quakersdc.org/directions). Memorial gifts in Phyllis Palmer's memory may be sent to Green Grants (www.greengrants.org) or Heifer International (www.heifer.org).A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m., Saturday, June 14, 2014 at the Friends Meeting of Washington, 2111 Florida Avenue NW, Washington DC (http://quakersdc.org/directions). Memorial gifts in Phyllis Palmer's memory may be sent to Green Grants (www.greengrants.org) or Heifer International (www.heifer.org).
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Published in The Washington Post on May 7, 2014