Norma Cannon Palms
1936 - 2020
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Norma Lee Cannon Palms, the wife of former University of South Carolina President John M. Palms and a devoted contributor to educational, cultural, and church organizations throughout her life, died on Sunday, July 26 at the Medical University of South Carolina. Mrs. Palms had recently been battling a number of illnesses, and her husband of 62 years was beside her when she passed away peacefully. Norma and John were blessed with a lifelong love affair, and it had an auspicious beginning: Introduced via a mutual friend, they went on a blind date at which John was so charmed he immediately proposed to her. Norma, ever the Charleston girl, made him wait until after he met her father, and then accepted. They were married a year later, two days after his graduation from The Citadel in 1958. Their South Carolina beginning as a couple was foretelling, for across their later decades, they would serve USC and organizations across Columbia and Charleston in numerous ways. Born June 30, 1936, in Charleston to Norman L. Cannon and Gertrude Beshere Cannon, Norma attended Bishop England High School and Sacred Heart College in North Carolina. After she and John married, they first livid in Atlanta, GA where the U.S. Air Force sent John. Later he was station in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Colorado Springs, Colorado, and at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. Mrs. Palms was active in community and volunteer groups, including the Air Force Officers’ Wives Club, and taught religion at the churches of which she was a member. In 1966, they moved back to Atlanta, Georgia, when Dr. Palms accepted a position at Emory University. For the next 23 years, Mrs. Palms helped him to recruit faculty and fundraise. But that was only a part of the many roles she played, despite the demands of being mother to three growing children. In addition to other volunteer work, she was president of Emory Women’s Club, raised money for metropolitan charities, was active in the Catholic Center at Emory and the Parish of Christ the King Cathedral, and served as president of the Parent-Teacher Association at her children’s school. When Dr. Palms was named president of Georgia State University in 1989, Mrs. Palms embraced the role of university First Lady, entertaining in the President’s Home, planning alumni and university functions, and assisting in fundraising. Meanwhile, she expanded her contributions to educational and cultural life in Atlanta, notably for the Atlanta Symphony, for which she served on the Executive Committee. In 1991, following her husband’s appointment as the 26th president of USC, Mrs. Palms began a tenure of service to USC and community organizations in the state that would continue for the rest of her life. During their years at USC, she served on the boards of such organizations as McKissick Museum (co-chair), Providence Hospital, Harvest Hope Food Bank, the Cultural Council of Richland and Lexington Counties, Friends of Brookgreen Gardens, the USC Board of Visitors, the USC Women’s Club (honorary president), the Columbia Council for Internationals, and the National Advisory Council of USC’s Bicentennial Campaign. She also was honorary chair of Mepkin Abbey’s major fundraising campaign and active in the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges. But as Carolina’s First Lady, Mrs. Palms was best known for her grace, attention to detail, sense of aesthetics and, most of all, genuine interest in everyone she met. During those 11 years, she and Dr. Palms welcomed more than one million guests to their home. Mrs. Palms especially enjoyed hosting Carolina students and student organizations, and proudly helped initiate the senior ring ceremony. In 2001, in recognition of her work with students, she was inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa. Mrs. Palms also enjoyed a particular passion for improving the President’s House and gardens. In 2002, the Columbia Garden Club honored her service by dedicating it with a beautiful plaque on the Horseshoe as “The Norma Cannon Palms Rose Garden.” In 2002, USC’s Board of Trustees awarded Mrs. Palms the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters in recognition of her commitment to the cause of higher education and the University community, in particular “for her enthusiastic and wholehearted involvement in civic organizations and activities that add immeasurably to the quality of life of all people.” Her official portrait was recently hung alongside Dr. Palms’ in USC’s Thomas Cooper Library. After their tenure at USC, Dr. and Mrs. Palms moved to Isle of Palms, South Carolina. In the years since, she has joined him in helping USC in any way they could and has been active in community, cultural, and church organizations across Charleston and beyond, including Mepkin Abbey; the Charleston Gaillard Center; and Spoleto Festival USA. In 2006, Mrs. Palms received a special award for her work on the Capital Campaign for the Renovation of the Memminger Auditorium and the Dock Street Theatre. In 2007, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI bestowed upon Mrs. Palms the Papal Honor: Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross, in recognition of her service in giving strong encouragement to the Catholic presence on the campus of the University of South Carolina. She loved to read, dance, cook, attend the symphony, host guests, indulge their grandchildren at every chance possible, and pray each day hand in hand with John. Mrs. Palms is survived by her husband John, her children John Michael Palms, Jr. (Anna) Dallas, TX, Danielle Palms McClure (Mark) Columbia, SC, and Lee Cannon Palms (Nelle) Greenville, SC; her grandchildren Lee Madison Palms, Caroline Kirkpatrick Palms, John Michael Palms III, Thomas Daniel McClure, Patrick John McClure, Maria Adele McClure, Lee Cannon Palms, Jr., Moseley Reed Palms, and Harriette Nelle Palms. She is predeceased by her brother Joseph B. Cannon and sister Gertrude Agnes Cannon Cooper. Due to Covid-19, a private funeral to be attended by the immediate family will be held on Monday, August 3, at The Cathedral of John the Baptist in Charleston, South Carolina. The service will be live streamed at 11:00 AM, Monday, August 3, 2020, at http://tinyurl.com/sjblive Although Mrs. Palms loved flowers, she had an even greater passion for supporting others. In that regard, in lieu of flowers,memorial contributions may be made to the following: The University of South Carolina, Metkin Abbey, The Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston or The Spoleto Festival, USA.. Arrangements by JAMES A. MCALISTER, Inc. (843) 766-1365 Visit our guestbook at www.legacy.com/obituaries/ charleston

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Published in Charleston Post & Courier from Jul. 28 to Jul. 29, 2020.
MEMORIAL EVENTS
AUG
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Mass of Christian Burial
11:00 AM
live streamed at http://tinyurl.com/sjblive
Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by James A. McAlister Funerals & Cremation
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42 entries
September 10, 2020
Incredibly charming intelligent loving wife friend colleague and mentor who will be truly missed but always remembered
Mary Boyd
Friend
September 10, 2020
Incredibly charming intelligent loving wife friend colleague and mentor who will be truly missed but always remembered
Mary Boyd
Acquaintance
August 17, 2020
Grove of 100 Memorial Trees
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Richard Gussoni
August 13, 2020
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JOHN TILL
August 4, 2020
Judith Bleecker
Friend
August 3, 2020
Norma Cannon Palms and Dr John M Plams, <br />First Honorees of Mary Ramsay Civic Award 2012
Named after the late Mary Croghan Ramsay, The Mary Ramsay Civic Award is given to those who have displayed considerable civic and charitable leadership within the community. The award is a remembrance of all the good works and determination Ramsay had for bettering the Lowcountry.
First Honorees for the Mary Ramsay Civic Award in 2012
Norma Cannon Palms and Dr John M. Palms
August 3, 2020
Dr. Palms, I was so sorry to hear about Mrs. Palms.
It’s always my pleasure to meet every January at ISOE North American Technical Symposium.
I extend to you my heartfelt condolences.
Koji ENDO
Friend
August 2, 2020
Eternal Friendship Remembrance Bouquet - VASE INCLUDED
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Sanshiro Kobayashi
August 2, 2020
We are sorry to hear of a your loss, Norma was an exceptional lady. She made us feel special whenever we saw her, flashing her lovely smile and being interested in our lives. We were so glad to have known her.
Tommy and Bonnie Hartnett
Tommy and Bonnie Hartnett
Friend
August 2, 2020
Cocky<br />Univeristy of South Carolina
Mrs. Palms,
Thank you for the 11 years you dedicated to your beloved University of South Carolina. All the meetings and events you attended and hosted, you were a fabulous hostess to all the dignities, students and alumni at the Presidents House. Mrs. Palms, you always made everyone feel welcome with your smile and warm greetings.
Thank you for all that you did for our great univeristy!!! You will especially be missed at all the sporting games you attended to cheer your Gamecocks! We hail thee Carolina!!!!
Cocky
August 2, 2020
Dr John M Palms, President of University of South Carolina, Norma Cannon Palms, First Lady and Michelle Lefeld<br />Washington DC Fundraiser for the University- 1992
August 2, 2020
President and First Lady of the University of South Carolina, Dr John M. Palms and Norma Cannon Palms, 2000-2001
Thank you for you dedication and leadership to the University, all the students and alumni.
Univeristy of South Carolina Family
August 2, 2020
Norma Cannon Palms, Tobias Lucca Schoepp, Dr John M Palms <br />March 30,2017<br />Catherdal of St John the Baptist
Miss Norma,
Thank you for being my Godmother and role model. I will put the lessens you taught me into my life’s and faith’s actions and not just words. When I pray the rosary, I know the Blessed Mother is holding my hand and I know your hand is there too. Mom says I will hear you from heaven and you will continue to help guide me in my life and faith. I promise I will try my best to look after Dr. John for you. I love you!!!
Tobias, Your loving Godson
August 1, 2020
Sweet Thought Bouquet
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David W Miller NATC
August 1, 2020
Stars of Life Standing Spray
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a loved one
August 1, 2020
During the time Dr. Palms was President of USC and Ms. Palms was First Lady, they made the perfect team. As they hosted dignitaries from throughout the world and entertained thousands of guests in their home, Norma was always the quintessential hostess. She possessed an extraordinary ability to make every person feel welcome and comfortable, and she had an unusual capacity to remember information about guests she had met previously. She also served USC well in her involvement in many other organizations in SC, always representing the University in an exemplary manner. Through her affable personality and extensive service activities, Norma made an indelible mark in this state. My wife and I, like the untold numbers of people whose lives have been enriched through knowing her, mourn her passing.
Frank Raymond
Friend
August 1, 2020
Peg and I are saddened at the news of Norma's passing. We are blessed to have known her and her beautiful family. May she rest in peace.
Don Schroer
Friend
July 31, 2020
Eternal Affection Arrangement- BASKET INCLUDED
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Tadashi Narabayashi
August 1, 2020
A Photo at the VIP Dinner at ISOE ALARA Symposium
I met Mrs. Palms every January with Dr. John Palms, at the annual ISOE North American Technical Symposium. It is my sincere condolence with my and my wife tears that Norma was called to heaven with a noble hear smile.
Dr. Tadashi Narabayashi
Friend
July 31, 2020
In loving memory of Norma, a truly gracious,kind,and lovely lady. She so unselfishly gave the gift of her time to help others. I truly enjoyed her company while visiting in Charleston with family for the holidays.
Joyce Martin
Friend
July 31, 2020
John, our thoughts are with you and your family. We remember Norma so fondly as the gracious lady she was from the dinner at our house and the breakfast at yours when I came by to pick up Lee for a round of golf.
Gunther Holst
Coworker
July 31, 2020
Exquisite Tribute Standing Spray
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Webb Sowden
July 31, 2020
The Spathiphyllum Plant
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a loved one
July 30, 2020
Group of 10 Memorial Trees
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Gary Luoma
July 30, 2020
Frankie Eaton
Acquaintance
July 30, 2020
An eternal dwelling place is waiting for Norma! She followed the path God laid out for her. Her life was full of good friends, good times, a loved one's touch, much laughter and always wished you the sunshine
of tomorrow. She always saved a place for me at the Thomas Moore Chapel daily Mass as I rushed in after my jaunt from the USC Law School. Our dear one lives on - her memories are still with us!
JoAnne Heiting
Acquaintance
July 30, 2020
John, sally and I were saddened to hear of Norma’s passing.She was truly an elegant lady, the epitome of class and loveliness. May she rest in eternal peace.
Sally and Alan Davis
Sally and Alan Davis
Friend
July 30, 2020
Sorry for Norma's passing. My very best to John and the Palms family. It has been an honor to know these wonderful people.
Howard Carver
Friend
July 30, 2020
Dr. Palms, I was so sorry to hear about Mrs. Palms. Please know that you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.
Gloria Faircloth
July 30, 2020
Nancy and I are so sorry to hear. She was warm and gracious to us.
Robert and Nancy Peele
Robert Peele
Acquaintance
July 30, 2020
What a lovely lady! I spend many special times with her when I worked for USC. She was the ultimate gracious hostess and First Lady of the University. Love and prayers Dr. Palms for you and the family in your loss.
Sandra Clardy Breazeale
Coworker
July 30, 2020
Dr. Palms and Family:
Please accept my sincerest sympathy on the passing of your beloved wife and mother. This dear lady was always so gracious and kind and full of joy!
God bless her and God bless all of you.

Sincerely,
Allen Young
Robert Allen Young
Friend
July 29, 2020
Beautiful lady, beautiful life!!!
My condolency to closest family.
Malgorzata Barnett
July 29, 2020
Thank you for your years of service to USC!
Carolyn Williams - Class of 1969
Acquaintance
July 29, 2020
Farewell Too Soon Bouquet
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a loved one
July 29, 2020
It was a joy to know Norma and the Palms family at Emory University and in Atlanta. Norma was the role model of a gracious, strong-willed, charming lady. Rest in peace.
Betsy Tanner
Friend
July 29, 2020
Dr. Palms and family, we are so sorry for your loss. We did not know Mrs. Palms personally, but are blessed to have your sweet daughter, Danielle, as part of our family. Your lovely wife lived a full and meaningful life that can only be celebrated and admired. Her legacy lives on in her precious family and many accomplishments. We will be keeping you and your family and friends in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. God bless you all.
Deborah McClure
Acquaintance
July 29, 2020
You only had to meet Norma once to experience the warmth and friendliness she was so well known for. May special memories ease the pain for those in her family at this time and beyond.
Henry B. Haitz III
Acquaintance
July 28, 2020
Norms was one of my dearest friends for the very longest time. Our families have been close, and we shared many wonderful times together. She was my STRONG ONE! I depended upon her wisdom and her strength. I admired her grounded-ness and her love of both her family & her religion. She kept me focused! She was a trusted friend. I am going to miss her in every way. My virtual hugs to the entire family that I so love also. RIP Norms! You will ALWAYS BE: a delicate part of my heart!
Toni Elkins
Friend
July 28, 2020
You Godson, Tobias, will miss talking to you and being guided by your gentle hand. I know you will continue to guide me and I always be able to talk to you in heaven.
You Godson, Tobias, will miss talking to you and being guided by your gentle hand. I know you will continue to guide me and I always be able to talk to you in heaven.
Tobias Schoepp
Friend
July 28, 2020
To my beautiful lady that never gave up on me to come back to the church and you never stopped praying and after 25 years your prayers were answered and I came back to the faith. How can I every thank you for loving me and never giving up on me and my soul and our family. You were the most amazing Godmother to my wonderful son Tobias. Not many people can say that they brought three people to the faith and saved our souls. You have always been our angel on earth and now in heaven. We will be with you again one day.
Michelle Lefeld
Friend
July 28, 2020
What an amazing tribute to your mom. Beautiful, classy lady inside and out. She lived a life of love, passion and purpose.
I will pray for comfort, peace and that your memories fill your heart and mind with happiness.
Shannon Benson- Whiting
Friend
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