Melvin Delmar Palmer

Westminster, Maryland

Jul 14, 1930 – Apr 7, 2016


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Melvin "Del" Delmar Palmer, age 85, of Westminster, Maryland, died on Thursday, April 7, 2016 at Lorien Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Taneytown, Maryland. Born July 14, 1930 in Mitchell County, Georgia, he was the son of the late Melvin D. Palmer, Sr., and Leolah (Gardner) Frank. He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Nancy (Baugh) Palmer. Del was a professor of Comparative Literature and Dean of Academic Affairs at the former Western Maryland College, now McDaniel College. Del retired in 1994 after nearly three decades of extraordinary service to the College's community of teachers and scholars. A winner of the Distinguished Teaching Award, not just once but three times, Del was widely cherished as an enthusiastic innovator and problem-solver with singular charm and skill -- a life-changing mentor to both undergraduates and young faculty. He and Nancy always had an open home to students and to faculty. He lent his expertise to many aspects of campus life, including his service as Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty from 1983 to 1990. He assisted in the creation of Theatre on the Hill, the College's longtime summer repertory theatre company, as well as the high school Maryland Poetry Contest. His support helped lead to the founding of Common Ground on the Hill. He also co-designed the Master of Liberal Arts program and co-authored the College's First Principles document. His classroom teaching made the greatest impact of all on generations of students. Del arrived at Western Maryland College in 1965, after earning his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Maryland following service in the Navy. In 1969, he received his Ph.D. from Maryland in Comparative Literature. A scholar with a dazzling array of interests, he was widely published in the areas of French and English literature of the late 17th century, poetry, and the modern novel. Alumni recall sitting with their chairs arranged in a circle, with Del paying serious attention to every student's question, pushing them with gentleness and humor until they achieved more than they believed they could. His respect inspired confidence and he helped students develop a way of thinking about literature -- from Beowulf to Toni Morrison -- that has stayed with them throughout their lives. In his retirement, Del remained a vital member of the College community, especially the English Department, and was often on campus to attend lectures and other special events. He and his wife Nancy, a beloved senior lecturer of English who retired in 2002, traveled to Italy, Southeast Asia, Turkey, Syria and Jordan, among other destinations. The consummate liberal artist, Del was a gardener, a gourmet, and an excellent home cook, and he continued his scholarly pursuits, studying art history, Spanish, and Italian during retirement. Surviving in addition to his wife are daughters, Diane Palmer of N.C., Jennifer Palmer and husband Charles Carlson of Va., Nancy Beth Palmer and companion Karina Uldall of Wash., Allison Palmer and husband Sean Kelley of Ok., and grandsons Julian Palmer and Evan Kelley. He was predeceased by a brother, Maurice Palmer. A memorial service, to be announced, will be held in June on the campus of McDaniel College. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to McDaniel College in Dells name. Arrangements have been entrusted to the MYERS-DURBORAW FUNERAL HOME in Westminster.

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Nancy & Children I was filled with sorry when cousin Lyrice notified of Cousin Delmar's death. I owe everthing of my being, to Uncle Melvin because it was because of his transfer to Florence, S.C. to open a Sing Oil service station that my father (Euitt
Palmer) met my mother Elsie Wright Palmer My father passed away in 1975 but mother is still alive and in a Nursing Home at the age of 94. May
God bless and keep you close to his side.

Del Palmer's voice and presence are deeply inscribed in my memory. Both and he and Nancy were wonderful mentors to me during my years on the Hill (73-77). I loved coming up that staircase in the old Memorial Hall and the glad smile he would send from his office. I remember him teaching the Classical poets: "there are tears in the nature of things, and all things doomed to die touch the heart." Then as now, Delmar, then as now. Take care Nancy--I truly remember both of you with great...

Dear Nancy, Allison, Nancy Beth, and all the family,
When I heard of Del's passing I could not keep the tears back. Del and you all were such rocks for me back in the early 70's, and you truly were life savers. I will never forget Del's story about the molasses and the feather that kept him occupied for hours as a child. I send my love, and Randy's love, to you all with the hope that somehow you will see this message and perhaps can get in touch. Love in great measure to you all. Judy...

My heart is so heavy and the loss so great. To me Del was the epitome of a DEAN and SCHOLAR who had the liberal arts in his heart and always sought to revere it. His support was always forthcoming and his warmth pervasive. I will miss having him in this world. He truly is one of my favorite people from all my years at WMC, now McDaniel College. My love and condolences to his lovely family. Nancy, I am here for you in anyway at anytime. With deep respect and affection, Christianna

A fantastic teach and wonderful person. One of my all time favorite people and a big influence.

Del was a talented, caring educator and he had a profound influence on my life. Without Del Palmer, I would not be a writer and a bookstore owner. But more importantly, Deb Hosey and I may have never met and married.

Del cast many pebbles into the water and he continues to have a far-reaching impact.

David White
WMC 1976

When we think of Del, our thoughts are what a wonderful and kind man he was! He will be missed.

A legacy of WMC. A life Iof memories by many.

Goodbye old friend.