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.